I have been an RN for 5 years and have done different types of nursing trying to find my "niche". I did hospital nursing for three years working ortho/neuro and rehab, then nursing home for a year, and recently outpatient surgery center. I really love my job at the outpatient surgery center, but a recent personal experience with cancer got me thinking about getting into oncology nursing. Problem is I have NO experience. WOuld it be too late for me to try to get a job in oncology? What could I do to gain knowledge?
Nov 3, '12
It's not too late. Oncology is just like any other specialty. Apply for open positions. When we hire, we rarely get a lot of applications from people with Oncology experience. I would not recommend taking the chemo class, because in order to be certified, you have to be checked off hanging at least 10 chemos (I think....it's been a long time since I've don it.) Without working in it, you really can't get this done as far as I know.
In my experience, nursing is nursing. Good assessment skills, the ability to talk to patients, the ability to assess problems and react quickly and appropriately, attention to detail, the ability to learn quickly...these things are always needed and transcend all specialties. The rest can be taught.
Nov 3, '12
I agree with mappers; a solid nursing foundation will get you far in oncology.
My workplace (outpatient oncology) leans towards RNs who have a critical care background, ie ICU or ER, as our patient population can turn on a dime and the ability to recognize oncological emergencies is very valuable. We've hired nurses from all different backgrounds, and as mappers said, previous chemo/biotherapy is not necessary. Really good assessment -- the ability to triage symptoms, relate them to medications, recent lab values, etc -- is what we're really after.