Pediatric Oncology

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    I'm just starting Nursing School and we don't do anything with pediatrics but I am really interested in pediatric oncology. What can I do to explore this avenue a little bit more?
  2. 5 Comments so far...

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    Your school doesn't do pediatrics clinicals or pediatric theory? What kind of program are you in?

    As far as getting your feet wet goes, I suggest looking up your local pediatric oncology clinic and seeking out volunteer opportunities. Something else to consider is that there are tons of camps for children with cancer all over the country.
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  4. 0
    Thank You, and NO we don't do anything with peds except for a "well-child" paper in Nursing 100, that's considered our clinical experience . When a friend of mine asked why, she simply stated that there aren't many sick children around here. We all know that there are sick children everywhere. I'm in upstate NY, an hour north of Albany and taking Nursing at a SUNY community college in an AAS Nursing program.
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    I suggest taking electives in paediatrics. Next, you could find out if there is a volunteer program at a children's hospital in teh oncology ward?
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    I do find it interesting that you don't have more instruction in pediatrics other than one paper. You don't even have a pediatrics lecture course? Children are NOT simply little adults. Their illnesses and medical needs are much different from the adult population. It's not enough to just study well children. You should have at least a lecture course, if not a clinical, on the topic of pediatrics. I would seriously be addressing this with the Dean of your program. Make sure you check whether or not your school is accredited, since they are lacking this rather vital piece of your education.

    Okay, there's my rant.

    If you're interested in peds oncology, the first thing I would do is try to get a clinical rotation in oncology. Cancer in children is treated pretty similarly to cancer in adults, so an oncology clinical, even if your patients are adults, will give you great exposure to the field. It will also teach you important information about types of cancers, administering chemotherapy, death and dying, and communication with terminally ill patients.

    Second, investigate your local hospitals and children's hospitals. If they have a peds oncology unit or even just a peds unit, try to volunteer or shadow a nurse for a few weeks. (In hospitals without specific oncology units, the children being treated for cancers are kept on the general floor.) If you can't shadow a nurse, try to volunteer with the Child Life department and let them know you have an interest in oncology patients.

    Also, see if there are any outpatient oncology treatment centers in your your area. This is where children who are being treated for cancer, but who are well enough to be at home, go to get their chemotherapy, blood work and transfusions. It would also be a great place to shadow.
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    Let me just say that peds oncology generally speaking has MUCH better outcomes than adult heme/onc, the reason being that most kids with cancer dont have other chronic illnesses so that means we can give them extremely high doses of chemotherapy that adults would never tolerate. As a result, there's been a revolution in pediatric cancer deaths. 20 years ago "routine" cancers like ALL would be an automatic death sentence and now the survival rate is in the 90% range.

    That being said, when you do get the patients that have a bad cancer like AML it is absolutely devastating. Its one thing to take care of a 70 year old with terminal cancer, its quite another thing to take care of a 5 year old who will be dead within 6 months and doesnt understand what's happening to him, and furthermore to watch them slowly spiral towards death. Watching children die is a tough job. Thank god the happy stories greatly outweigh the sad stories, but those sad cases will stay with you forever.


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