Oncology a good start?

  1. Hi--
    I am a nursing student who is almost done with my first year, will be graduating next May. I have been offered an extern type position at a hospital for the summer working in their Oncology unit. I was wondering if this would be a good place for me to learn things. I wanted to start in telemetry or med-surg but right now there are no openings on those floors. Any advice you have on oncology nursing would be great. Please be honest. I would like to know the pros and cons.
  2. Visit AmyRN1227 profile page

    About AmyRN1227

    Joined: Nov '99; Posts: 122; Likes: 1
    from US
    Specialty: 8 year(s) of experience in Oncology, Med-Surgical


  3. by   JenMarie
    I am about to start a new job in oncology next week so my knowledge of it is not great yet. However I have spent the last 2 years working in surgical and one of my biggest frstrations was when a patient on the ward became palliative and we were not set up properly to care for them. Sometimes patients would die on the ward which was an acute setting and not a nice place for them to spend their last days. Also the doctors were not knowledgable about symptom control and durgs to make their last part of their journey comfortable. Things like getting a grazeby pump set up on a patient to give them continuous pain relief was such a mission. Hence I chose this new job in oncology beacuse I felt it would relieve some of my frustration in giving "comfort" cares. Hope that is a little thought to ponder on anyway.
  4. by   Nancy1
    Hi Amy,
    Even though you would like to be on a med surg unit, sometimes you have to take what is available to you.
    I had an internship that is nowhere near the field I entered, BUT it provided for me the time to learn some time management skills, how to take a history and just feel comfortable around the patients.
    I would say go for it and see where this opportunity leads you.
    Good Luck NA
  5. by   Julie, RN
    Wow...I was in your exact shoes last summer.
    I had applied for a student nurse externship and the only opening was on an Oncology floor, so I took it. It proved to be one of the best experiences in my life! I am now about to graduate and have accepted a position on an Oncology unit. You will get allot of "med-surg" experience plus allot of the very important "psychosocial" aspects of bedside nursing care. Oncology patients are a very special group of people! I feeled honored to have been accepted into this nursing specialty.

    Good Luck,
    Julie M.,SN
    Class of 2000
  6. by   AmyRN1227
    Thanks everyone for all your great advice!
    I also spoke with a friend yesterday who personally knows an Oncology nurse and also told me some really positive things! I guess that it's just not dealing with cancer, but a variety of things, like you said besides the palliative care, the med-surg experience and the psychosocial aspect of it. The other thing that I questioned though because I always thought of Oncology as being really depressing....is it? Is it hard to be around dying patients all day?
    Thanks again!
    Good luck to you all too!
  7. by   Julie, RN
    New technology has advanced the treatment and extended the lives for many cancer patients. Cancer patients are able to manage their disease just like a chronic illness. So, no it is not depressing b/c many people survive with our current technologies.
  8. by   AmyRN1227
    Hi Julie!
    Thanks!! That's what I've heard. During one of my clinicals I got to spend a day in Oncology and it was more like an outpatient department where the patients were monitored and came in for their chemo. I found it very interesting. I learned a lot from just talking with them. But I really appreciate the input!
  9. by   angiewatsonrn
    I have been an oncology nurse for more than a year in an Outpatient setting, working under orders from several different oncologists.
    I, too, was worried about oncology nursing as I had never had any experience in this field. (It was a requirement of the department that I become oncology certified.)
    I have found it to be very rewarding. The best advice I can offer to you is to learn to listen. My chemotherapy patients love to tell stories about their lives. I've met some very interesting people, including a man who was a sailor in the USS Arizona when it was bombed. And even though not every patient is cured, I feel like I have made a difference in their lives by helping them come to terms with their mortality. I also am very honored and humbled when they share their stories. I think every nurse should have the opportunity to experience oncology nursing. I think it's made me a much better nurse.

  10. by   sampierce

    I graduated in 1995 and began working the day after my boards in a Pediatric ICU/BMT unit. I enjoyed both aspects of the unit, however, within a year, I found myself requesting the BMT kiddo's. I enjoyed the "expaned" relationship that I was developing with these longer-term patients. Soon, I moved to TX and began to work in an outpatient clinic for Pedi Heme/Onc. I never knew how much this would change my life. It has been such a rewarding, yet challenging position. Tears of sorrow and joy, let me tell you. I'm sure the area you are talking about is adult oncology, but I take care of some 18-20 year olds, and it has been so rewarding. Oncology is a wonderful area of nursing, you get to do so many things and are challenged both spiritually and professionally. Don't let me scare you off about it, but give it a try! I think you will find you are glad you did. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any more questions or concerns.

    Sam Pierce