Is this a reasonable workload for oncology?

Specialties Oncology


Hi, all,

I'm under consideration for a PRN (maybe full-time) job in oncology; the manager is really taking her time, which is fine. In the meantime, maybe you can give me some insight as to whether the following sounds reasonable/doable on an inpatient hematology/medical oncology floor.

Nurse pt ratio 1:5 (this was apparently recently lowered). NAs/techs have 12 pts each, which means that a nurse may end up with a primary pt as well (manager says techs "are wonderful and usually take care of those pts as well". I guess if they like you ;) )

Nurses are expected to call the physicians themselves (instead of the charge nurse doing this). Sounds reasonable to me, but is it?

Nurses start their own IVs, although the hospital has an IV team.

Nurses are expected to hang chemo after a year. They get a two day course to become certified, but it's not by ONS (I hope I remember this correctly).

A 1:5 ratio sounds reasonable to me, but maybe I've been away from med/surg too long (I even did oncology very briefly with a 1:7 ratio that I could definitely not manage as a new grad. Neither did I do too well with the 1:8 ratio on a med/tele/stepdown unit. All this was a decade ago, though).

Thanks for any info, I really appreciate it!

DeLana :bow:

P.S. I would love to get the job, I really want to work in oncology.


251 Posts

It depends on the shift and the accuity. Our aides on nights had up to 10. Days had 5ish. Evenings was somewhere in between. Nurse wise, days usually had 4-5, nights up to 7, rarely 8. If you had primary care on days it was no more than 3. Nights up to 5. We called our own doctors and didn't have a real charge nurse. We had shift coordinators that had a full patient load, put out fires, and communicated our staffing needs.

I don't have any experience with chemo classes other than ONS, but we did the chemo class after a year (2 day class), then went to an outpatient chemo center for a day or 2 so we could really learn how to do it. I felt more comfortable with some observed hands on chemo hanging before I was set loose.

Good luck! I hope you get it!

Thanks for the reply, I appreciate it. Meanwhile, I'm still waiting - the manager is taking her time, but then again, no news is always good news.

DeLana :)


60 Posts

Depending on the acuity of your patients. I know our ratio is 5:1, and that is manageable. 6 is too much IMO. Sometimes 4 is too much if they require a lot of care. Pain med q2 with 3 pts., chemo on one and you won't have time to do anything else. That includes eating lunch or having bathroom breaks.

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