High School Student Wants to be an Oncology Nurse

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I am a confused junior in high school. I have always had a desire to do nursing. I really want to go into helping cancer patients. I have absolutely no clue where to start or what I would have to do followed by the requirements to be able to work with cancer patients. I have done my research, I have not really found any useful answers. How many years would I go to college for? What do you even do? very confused. Just do not want to get my hopes up in the cancer field and waste my time and it ending up being something I am not interested in. I would like to be able to be beside my patient during his or her journey during chemo therapy/ radiation. just looking for some answers!



    Dear Confused High School Student Wants Oncology Nursing,

    Here's what you do:

    Get good grades the remainder of high school. When you graduate, attend college and begin taking your general ed as well as nursing pre-requisites (pre-requisites include chemistry, anatomy and physiology). Be mindful of your GPA to remain competitive.

    Apply to nursing school (programs take 2-4 years, I recommend a BSN program). Graduate and test for your nursing license.

    At this point you are a qualified nurse. Speciality practice happens once you start working, not in school. There are some wonderful opportunities in oncology, including
    being a nurse navigator, where you walk patients through their entire treatment experience. You could also work in an oncology infusion center, where you administer chemotherapy.

    With your heart for these patients, you can easily find your path. Maybe your destiny

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,415; Likes: 4,224

    2 Comments

  3. by   oncnursemsn
    Hi Nurse Beth- and thank you for your timely advice. As an Advanced Oncology Nurse Specialist and former nursing professor, may I add a few additional suggestions? An oncology nurse navigator typically needs 2-5 years nursing/oncology experience. It's a tough and complicated road with symptom management, insurance issues and treatment decisions. Experience makes a difference with cancer care so complicated. Ambulatory oncology nurses also need a year or two- and should be an Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) for outpatient care. As a very new nurse with basic skills, I suggest an in-patient oncology/med/surg unit. The new nurse will develop delegation skills and begin to understand the complications and nuances of caring for a cancer patient and their family members. I've been a member of the Oncology Nursing Society and they are an excellent resource. Thank you again!
    Jessie Brodbeck, RN, MSN, AOCNS
  4. by   Nurse Beth
    Quote from oncnursemsn
    Hi Nurse Beth- and thank you for your timely advice. As an Advanced Oncology Nurse Specialist and former nursing professor, may I add a few additional suggestions? An oncology nurse navigator typically needs 2-5 years nursing/oncology experience. It's a tough and complicated road with symptom management, insurance issues and treatment decisions. Experience makes a difference with cancer care so complicated. Ambulatory oncology nurses also need a year or two- and should be an Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) for outpatient care. As a very new nurse with basic skills, I suggest an in-patient oncology/med/surg unit. The new nurse will develop delegation skills and begin to understand the complications and nuances of caring for a cancer patient and their family members. I've been a member of the Oncology Nursing Society and they are an excellent resource. Thank you again!
    Jessie Brodbeck, RN, MSN, AOCNS
    Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your excellent advice and expertise

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