I'm starting my RN program this Spring (excited) and I am extremely drawn to working w/ Oncology patients (personal history, experiences w/ family & friends, I live in a breast cancer "hot-spot," etc.)
I have been volunteering with a massage therapy team at our local hospital and just finished my 200 hour inpatient internship & training. I loved the program, and have had amazing opportunities to work w/ a huge variety of patients from ICU to post-partum to Med/surg to Oncology etc.
There is another program in my community that trains massage therapists to work w/ Oncology patients, particularly low-income women. They ask for a minimum year comittment of volunteer service. It's only 1 4 hour shift per month, but I will be starting nursing school around the same time.
My question is: do you think massage therapy experience with oncology patients could benefit me down the line when I'm trying to get work in the Oncology field as a new grad? Is it worth it to make a year comittment to this new program with nursing school on top of it?
How do you who work in Oncology feel about massage therapy for patients? Do you think the field is receptive to this??
Many thanks for your response!
Dec 9, '09
I think this is a great idea. I'm a new grad working on a Medical Oncology unit and while I'm not formally trained in massage, I have on occasion given my patients backrubs which they thoroughly appreciate. Our hospital also has an Integrative Health Center which has trained LMTs available for our patients. Any experience you can gain and interest you show in working with oncology patients will go very far with someone who is looking to hire you. Nursing school is a huge time committment, and I don't know what other commitments you have (work, family?), but you should be able to squeeze 4 hours in. Managers love to see volunteer experience...it's what helped get me into nursing school and my job!
Dec 10, '09
Thanks so much for your response, I really appreciate it!
Jan 13, '10
I am a med/surg oncology RN with one years experience, as well as a LMT with 7 years of experience. I would love to spend more time doing hands-on massage with my patients, but as a floor nurse, that time is lacking. I do however find that my experience as an LMT has given me the "gentle touch" that oncology patients desperately need. I also feel that I can bring a spirit of peace to the room that other nurses don't seem to be able to do.
Don't over-commit yourself during nursing school. Massage is wonderful for oncology patients. You will learn some VERY basic massage skills in nursing school, but just remember that a gentle touch on the hand or shoulder can go a long way to relieve the stress felt by all patients.
Jan 13, '10
Thanks for your response!
I decided not to take on a new commitment with the oncology massage program. Instead I am planning on continuing my volunteer massage work at my current hospital. Since I have completed the required 200 hours of service, my schedule can be very flexible. The massage team coordinator said I could scale back at anytime during my nursing program if it feels like too much of a time commitment. I do get a lot of referrals for oncology patients in my current position, plus many other types of patients. I think that variety is a bonus while I'm learning in nursing school.
I definitely think my massage experience will carry with me into nursing for many of the same reasons you mentioned, even though I know I won't be able to practice much massage work directly.
All the best!