Pediatric oncology is a very demanding field on a lot of levels.
It's technical in that there are as many different treatment protocols as there are stars in the sky. Some of them are so precisely regimented that although you might have four different chemo drugs you're starting at different times, they all have to finish at the same minute... three days from now. The kids are on a zillion meds and might have surgical dressings to change, off-unit trips for radiation treatments and any number of therapies that have to be coordinated. You need to know the meds inside and out so that you can observe for complications, interactions and side effects, which ones you can run together and which you can't, where can you run the blood, the platelets, the cryo or the FFP they might need... You need to handle all their drugs and body fluids according to cytotoxic precautions and you may have to practice reverse isolation techniques.
It's physical in that the kids often are too weak from their diseases and the treatments to do much more than breathe. They need help with turns, personal care, toileting, you name it. Kids with brain tumors may not be able to move parts of their bodies at all.
It's emotional because although there have been incredible gains in cancer treatment and survival, it's still a long hard road to a cure, and there are still cancers that aren't beatable. Oncology famiies are very well educated and will be able to tell you what your next move will be, and they ask very penetrating questions. When a child is first diagnosed the families are very needy of support and information. As time goes on their needs change, and when things start going awry, they change again. The kids are in and out of hospital frequently over several years and the nurses get to know the whole family very well. They get attached to them and feel profound greif when they lose a patient. But most of them will tell you that's the good part of it. They feel connected, involved and valued.
It takes a special person to be a peds oncology nurse, and those that I have known have all been wonderful.