I work in a large pediatric hospital on a Heme/Onc unit. I would agree with much of what was said above regarding the population and how awesome they are (for the most part! :) ). For all of the patients who are wonderful and amazing, there are plenty who are mean and moody (especially on steroids), and I have definitely had a patient spit in my face over a blood pressure. They're not all strong and stoic like we would like to imagine them to be. The parents are much the same. Many are amazing, and it's as though their pains are our pains. We get calls when their children pass at home, attend memorials, and visit families if they passed in one of our ICUs. Parents will bring us dinner or donuts and send Christmas cards. But of course there are some where you just wonder why they even come stay, because they either ignore their kid or are actively unpleasant. I'm assuming that much is like the rest of the hospital where there are chronically ill children.
Other than that, our ratios are 2-3:1, depending on acuity. Our kids also tend to stay a little longer than other floors, so there aren't a ton of admissions and discharges per day. We run a lot of blood products, chemo, etc., as was previously mentioned. Sometimes we also go to NICU to give chemo, or ED to access ports, etc. but we generally don't like to leave! It becomes all you know after a while.
As far as being "sicker", it's true and not true. They have the potential to be very sick, but a lot of times they come in for chemo, hang out for count recovery, and are on their merry way. But yes, we obviously do see a lot of more complicated cases, hence the hospitalization (since many heme/onc patients never really need to be hospitalized are in seen outpatient for chemo and blood products). We get various complications related to drug toxicities, neutropenia, infections and the like. Many of the kids we see frequently inpatient relapse, and it can get very sad. It always seems like the sweetest kids, with the most fabulous parents, are the ones that have it the worst. But we have great staff support here, and it's like a second family.
It's a great place to be! Just don't come with expectations that it will be like The Red Band Society or The Fault in Our Stars, and you'll be just fine