Amount of orientation for new RN

  1. I started out of school as an oncology RN last year. I had 6 weeks of orientation. Right off the bat I was allowed to hang chemo as long as another RN verified the chemo I was hanging against the orders (which everyone has to do anyway). IV push chemo can't be done by anyone unless someone has watched you one time giving it and then you are considered "certified" to do it on your own. In the past they had a seminar once a year for new RN's. However, they do not have these anymore. You mostly have to learn on your own by reading or asking seasoned RN's questions. I love the patient population and the oncology unit. But I feel at times that I am just going with the flow on my own. Is this a typical training experience for a new grad or something that should send me running the other way? I am seriously considering another specialty because I'm not sure how much I will grow on this unit. I was told that I am expected to "take up most of the burden" to learn about oncology nursing. Also, the seasoned RN's work days (which I don't) so the RN's I work with haven't been around much longer than me. What do you think of this? And what orientation did you receive?
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    About rileygrl11

    Joined: Feb '03; Posts: 126; Likes: 3


  3. by   jemb
    First off, I admire you for questioning your situation, and realizing that you could be in over your head. You seem like a very conscientious nurse! Sounds like your facility has a very lax attitude about protecting the patients or the staff and facility. (Let me guess--$$$!)

    I would suggest that, if you do want to stay there, you contact the Oncology Nursing Society ( for core curriculum classes in your area. There are local chapters all over the US that have lectures and programs, and just joining ONS as a national member will get you lots of info. As I'm sure you are seeing, there is much more to oncology nursing than giving chemo, and without the experience and/or extensive training in the specialty, I doubt that you would have the know-how to handle what could happen in an oncological emergency, or to recognize some of the subtleties that could indicate a deteriorating disease state.

    Or- "run the other way"-- to protect your license.

    PM me if you'd like.
  4. by   caroladybelle
    Run to the ONS - for chemo or core curriculum classes. Your current situation is not safe for you or your patients.
  5. by   WalMart_ADN
    orientation for 12 weeks on my pedi. onc. floor....then a 2 day chemo class... then the test....and now we just get our meds double signed, which is standard practice. but before our chemo class...didn't touch the stuff..which was fine with me. now i feel very comfortable givign cytotoxic drugs, plus i always know i can ask more experiance nurses or look things up in the floor chemo resource manual. you need to do what it takes until you feel comfortable giving these drugs, or maybe switch to days for a while, where the seasoned nurses are. CYA, my friend, CYA!
  6. by   rebeccajs
    When I started 5 years ago right out of school on a renal/oncology floor I was not allowed to hang chemo or do anything chemo related until 6 months after being on the floor. Then I had a two week class with detailed oncology information and had to pass a test before I could hang chemo. The hospital I am at now starts their new orientees out much the same way as you described although they try not to give the new nurses the chemo patients if possible.
  7. by   KendraRN
    I started as a new graduate nurse on a large hematology/oncology floor almost two years ago. I was in a group of the first "oncology internship". Each new graduate nurse on my floor is assigned to a preceptor. The internship lasts six months and the preceptor and new grad work together everyday for those six months. For the first three months the new grad works inside the preceptors assignment and for the next three they would have their own assignment with the preceptor as a resource. The preceptor then would have a lighter assignment so to serve as a resource for the new grad. We had classes once a month related to oncology nursing and were required to take the ONS cancer chemotherapy course. After completing that, we had to be precepted on the floor three times for each type of chemo(vesicant, irritant, etc.) before being allowed to administer it ourself. Even with this extensive guidance, new grads often still feel overwhelmed. As a new nurse, you first focus on learning how to become a nurse and then focus on the oncology aspect. I still sometimes question the safety of my actions as the patient acuity is so high and the staff/patient ratio(while not horrible) could be better. I hope, for what it's worth, this helps! Good luck!
  8. by   LoveaNurse
    I am a new RN and I have started on an Oncology floor also in Ohio. I am only allowed to watch Chemo being hung. I am not allowed to hang Chemo until I have completed certification which is not offered until October.

    They want me to get used to the unit and being a new RN before I learn the Oncology portion. I would not feel safe hanging chemo without proper training and certification.

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