Published Feb 27, 2005
Hello. I am doing my Pediatric rotation in clinicals right now, and I am thinking of becoming a Pediatric Oncology nurse. One of my patients was a little girl with ALL and I really enjoyed caring for her. I always thought that I was interested in Peds but when I actually got to doing this rotation, I was disappointed. I think that specializing in peds oncology seems to be more my niche. My question is to any RN's that are actually working in this area. Do you work on the regular pediatric floor? If not, what area in the hospital do you work in? What exactly is your daily job duties? Also, did you become certifed in Pediatric Oncology nursing and if so, does the facility pay more for that? I have loads of questions, but most of all I am wondering what you do on a daily basis. I will graduate this December with my BSN, so time is running down, and I would like to have a clue as to what I should precept in in the fall. Any response would be helpful. Thanks!
BeenThereDoneThat74, MSN, RN
in the facility where i work, there is an inpatient heme/onc unit, an outpatient clinic, and a bone marrow transplant unit. the clinic is basically a very hectic doctors office. they see kids who need routine follow ups, or have problems (febrile at home, n/v/ dhydration) or are getting outpatient chemo. they will also transfuse blood products. depending on the severity of the problem, they get they get admitted. most of the kids on the floor are there for chemo (1-5 days at a time, then if all is well, they go home after a couple of days). the others are usually there for fever/neutropenia. the bmtu is self explanatory. those kids are there for at least a month (many much longer) and face many many complications). the acuity is higher, the ratio is anywhere from 1:1 to 1:3. the inpatient nurses work on both the floor and bmt (we rotate in and out), but the clinic is staffed seperately. i prefer bmt, as that is where i started out. its a lot of iv meds, mouthcare, dressing changes, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, and psychosocial care. it's very challenging, but demanding and emotionally draining at times.
i hav enot taken the plunge for certification. i'm in grad school, so it's impossible for me to devote the time to studying. it's extremely difficult. you need a certain # of documented hours in the field before you can sit. maybe someday. the extra pay is about $750 at my place. any other q's, let me know. :)
Do you need to start out as a new grad on another unit for experience first or can you enter pediatric oncology right away? I am graduating in Florida specifically if anyone knows. Thanks.
I started out on an adult Heme/Onc/BMT unit right after graduating from nursing college. This facility was a teaching hospital which offered (at the time) excellent educational and preceptoring programs for such specialized units. Many nurses would recommend at least a year or two on a med/surg floor before entering a specialized unit. This may be true for smaller or non-teaching hospitals that do not offer comprehensive educational/preceptor programs. But if you are sure that you want to work on a pediatric oncology unit right after graduating nursing college, I would suggest looking for a larger teaching hospital that offers such comprehensive programs.
I work in a large teaching childrens hospital in peds Onco. Our hospital has a separate hematology floor. Oncology consists of inpatient Oncology, BMT, and outpatient clinic. The other nurse explained the differences between the 3 very well. I did want to add my 2 cents though about getting experience before starting in Onco. Our floor gets a good number of new grads every year. However, I think it would be quite beneficial to have good assessment skills as well as time management skills before you get to Oncology. I worked on another unit before transferring to Onco and definitely felt it was a good move for me. I have also seen some nurses struggle starting out in Onco.
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