An oncology nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who works closely with cancer patients. Oncology nursing professionals are valued members of an intricate healthcare team. If you are someone who enjoys helping people who are seriously ill, this may be the right nursing profession for you.
Education Requirements for Oncology Nursing
In order to gain license as an oncology nurse, you must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited school. Those who gain their BSN must complete two years of general courses, and then two additional years of courses that are designed to provide knowledge on nursing science. Following graduation, the student must submit an application to the state Board of Nursing, which allows the nursing graduate to take the NCLEX examination. Once you pass this test, you can use the title of “RN.”
Most professional nursing programs require good grades from both high school and undergraduate courses. Additionally, some nursing schools require you to score well on the TEAS test.
Oncology Nurse Certification
Before you can obtain your oncology nursing certification through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation, you must meet the basic eligibility requirements. There are three different certification routes available.
OCN (Oncology Certified Nurse) – Hold an RN license, have a minimum of one year experience, and work for at least 1,000 hours in adult oncology nursing.
CPHON (Certified Pediatric and Hematology Oncology Nurse) – Hold an active RN license, have a minimum of one year experience, and work for at least 1,000 hours in pediatric oncology or hematology nursing.
CBCN (Certified Breast Care Nurse) – Hold an active RN license, have a minimum of one year experience, and work for at least 1,000 hours in breast care nursing.
Oncology Nursing Career Opportunities and Salaries
Those working within this nursing field have the opportunity to work as a regular oncology nurse or work in advanced practice. Most oncology nurses work in hospitals, physician offices, treatment centers, breast cancer clinics, pediatric oncology facilities, and dermatology practices.
The average salary for a RN working in an oncology position ranges from $45,000 to $65,000 per year, according to most web sources. Those working in advanced practice nurse (APN) positions make around $80,000 annually. The amount earned depends on the experience in this field, the amount of education, and the place of employment.
Job Duties of the Oncology Nurse
Oncology nurses are responsible for patient care for people with cancer. Depending on the facility where they work, their duties include administering treatments, giving medications, assisting with procedures, patient education, counseling families, and maintaining medical records. Some nurses will work closely with the patient, providing them with extensive care under the guidance of a physician, while others may take vital signs and watch over the patient’s progress during therapy.
ONCC (2013): http://www.oncc.org/