Advice for a student considering oncology nursing

  1. I am finally done with my pre-reqs and will be starting my RN program this fall. I should have my RN in two years and then I am planning on an RN-to-BSN program. I am 34, male and nursing is a second career for me after a career in computers.I am trying to remain open to all possible fields but I am drawn to oncology. I have a peer from a sports club (rollerderby) who is an oncology nurse.All the men and many of the women in my family have fought some kind of cancer and many have died from it. I've seen colon cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, prostate cancer and such and I've never seen any men go into oncology nursing but most of the men in my family have faced cancer. *I was just wondering if there were any one who has any input and advice for someone considering oncology nursing.
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    About WallyWallington

    Joined: Jul '12; Posts: 33; Likes: 14


  3. by   MillieT
    Hi, when in school I would concentrate on learning the grieving process, coping mechanisms etc, I use that info a lot with my patients.

    Also, really know your lab values and what to expect the doctors to treat. Know how to pick up sepsis and how to treat. Know how to treat pain and be an advocate for the pt when their pain meds aren't enough.

    Oncology is a rewarding field. I have worked with a couple men too!
  4. by   Aeterna
    Don't worry about being a male nurse! Yes, male nurses are in the minority, but we have several on our floor (medical/oncology) and I love them all.

    Somethings I see/deal a lot with in oncology:
    - Blood work results (esp. blood counts, electrolytes, liver function tests, and kidney function tests)
    - IV therapy, including central lines (i.e. PICCs)
    - Blood product administration
    - Dealing with serious infections (as chemo pretty much kills the patient's immune system)
    - Psychosocial support (for both the patient and their families/friends!), and on a similar note, death and dying
    - Pain management
    - Nausea and vomiting management (i.e. how to control it, anticipating the effects on the body, such as the electrolytes)
    - Mucositis management (not only is it painful but we've had people who are very malnourished because they cannot eat)

    It's a lot and it's a steep learning curve. However, there is so much opportunity to learn in oncology, and when you can explain to a patient what to expect with their treatments, when you know enough to manage a patient's pain or nausea well, then you will feel amazing and your patients will be grateful to you.

    Plus, we tend to see the patients come to us a lot - they come in for treatments, get discharged, come back in a few weeks for more treatments, etc. As a result, you get a unique opportunity to really build relationships with certain patients, and I love it when patients return, we bump into each other in the hallway, and they greet me with a huge smile before we chat for a few minutes. The downside, though, is when their disease ultimately progresses and their prognosis is poor, so it can be an emotionally draining job, too.

    Still, I do not regret choosing to go into oncology at all!