Onco Nurses???

  1. I'm starting my first year of RN school and I already know what I want to do. I want to do Oncology. Just wanted some input from the current onco RN's out there. What is the emotional toll?? How hard is it? Would you recommend it? Thanks!
  2. Visit jfpruitt profile page

    About jfpruitt

    Joined: Aug '01; Posts: 214; Likes: 1


  3. by   Julie, RN
    I've done inpatient oncology nursing since I graduated in May 2000 and love every bit of it. The highs always seem to cancel out the lows experienced. It is a truely spiritual part of nursing that is hard to explain with words. I feel honored to work with cancer patients. They teach us something about living well everyday.

    Good Luck!
    Julie M.,RN
  4. by   jfpruitt
    I agree. I've wanted to do Onco nursing since high school and I'm wondering if I'm going to have the heart for it. It seems so sad and I dont know if I can deal with that, but I'm going to try.
  5. by   Julie, RN
    As for hard....that depends on your definition of it. I have found that only working 3-days a wk really helps so that I am not saturated with illness all around. But, like I said, the highs always outweigh the lows. As for daily tasks on the unit, you will be doing a balancing act with alot of IV's: premeds, chemo, fluids, antibiotics, blood products, etc....
    With time, you will get the hang of it!

    Take care,
    Julie M., RN

    "The Cancer Connection":
  6. by   ToofunnyRN
    Pediatric Oncology is amazing. People always say "How do you do that you must be a special person" And I say "Well, yes I am!" Ha Just kidding. Ped Onc is so wonderful because you get to be with the most amazing children and families. And yes it can be the saddest thing in the world because you really get to know these children over the long haul. They may come in for chemo for days or weeks. They come in for weeks when they're sick. Then there are the BMTs. But when you work with children the first thing you see are kids. How bad can that be. I've been to many funerals but I've also been to a bunch of birthday parties!
    They always come back to see you at Christmas and they never forget you!!

    If you choose Oncology, you should really consider Peds.

    My saying about Pediatric Oncology is that if it wasn't so amazing and wonderful when you were taking care of them then it couldn't possibly hurt so much when they were gone.

    Good luck with your decision!
  7. by   jfpruitt
    Well, I'm glad you mentioned that. I am really really wanting to do Peds Onco above adult. The impact these nurses make on the kids and families is just remarkable. and I'm speaking from personal experience. Everyone says the same thing to me. "What you want to do when you graduate?" I say, "Peds Oncology" and they look at me like I have 4 eyes. The only thing I am worried about at this point is the attachment factor. Can you tell me exactly what your role is as a Peds Onco Nurse? Do you do IV's, etc..or education to families or what?? THanks for the info !!!!
  8. by   ToofunnyRN
    Most kids get central lines. Which type depends on the type of cancer and type of treatment. You do tons of teaching and it never ends because the families and patients are so distraught that you constantly have to repeat and reinforce the info. You will administer chemo. We did BMTs on the floor. Which was my favorite. You give lots of IV meds, blood, etc
    You will be an RN, social worker, hospice nurse, teacher, friend and shoulder to cry on. The attachment is the best part. It can be very hard sometimes but if you work with great people than that will make all the difference. When you are weak they will be strong and then it will be your turn. I know it sounds like I'm about to start lighting candles and chanting but it's true. Your other nurses are your support because they are the only ones who really understand. The hardest part was when I would take care of kids that were the same age as mine or would remind me of mine. I would go home and get my kids and just hug them until they made me stop!

    The only reason I left was because I moved to a town that doesn't have a childrens hospital!
  9. by   Ted
    I loved oncology nursing. . . hematology/oncology/BMT. I only left the specialty because I felt that I was losing the rest of my nursing skills.

    I like the responses that people shared here. It can be a spiritual experience, and it sure reinforced for me the concept of "One Day at a Time".

    Saw a lot of people die. Saw a lot of people joyously make it past their two, three, four, and five year marks (from those who would come back to the hematology/oncology/BMT unit for a friendly visit).

    I have a small collection of gifts that patients gave me. . . all of them gifts of the heart. . . poems, etchings, pictures, music, and a beaded braclet.

    I plan to go back to oncology nurse . . . maybe even hospice nursing. . . later in my career.

    Ted Fiebke
  10. by   coff51
    jfpru---oncology is a most rewarding and bittersweet experience, but do be aware that it has the pitfalls and drawbacks to many nurses that don't ,---through no one's fault, mind you--- possess that particular kind of fortitude to withstand the sadness and grief that is enevitable when those patients become so close, like other family members. I left our AIC - ambulatory infusion center after 4 years when depression took the best of me. I'm thankfull for the things I learned, the friends I met, the co-workers and staff, but I realize now how ill-suited I was for that position. If you're someone whose alphabet begins w/ "P", for Perfection--- know that oncology teaches you in a very basic, human way of how very imperfect this life for some people, and that every patient brings w/ them a spouse, children, parents, etc.--or worse sometimes no one at all. Not to mention, they got younger and younger as I didn't. But they touch your life like no one else can, and linger in your memory long past the time of their last visit. Now, I worked w/ many doctors and nurses that coped with all that magnificently, they were godsends to the patients and everyone around them--including me. Thank God that we, as a professional group have so many different avenues of nursing that we can choose from,we don't have to feel discouraged or guilty that you can't excel in them all... and you won't know until you try... You just may be the one they need.... kathye
  11. by   KatWright
    In nearly 30 years I have NEVER enjoyed patients AND families as i have since being on the Oncology unit for the past 7 years. It is so hard to explain. Yes people die, but it is an honor to be part of this special time.
    Before you undertake this or any area, learn how to care for you!!
    God bless you and good luck to you