Oncology Nursing provides a unique opportunity to use your nursing expertise to provide expert care to patients who have been diagnosed with cancer. It is a pleasant time be an oncology nurse and have a gratifying career you can be proud of. Learn what it takes to become an Oncology Nurse be reading the guide below!

How to Become an Oncology Nurse Guide
How to Become an Oncology Nurse Guide

Table of Contents

Quick Summary

Oncology nurses focus and specialize in the treatment of cancer patients. While there are, some who work directly with cancer patients, others become involved with community education, cancer prevention or cancer research.

Oncology nurses can specialize in a particular area of cancer nursing such as pain management, hospice, cancer rehabilitation or even pediatrics.

Educational Degree Needed:  Associates Degree (ADN) or Bachelor’s Degree (BSN)

Certification: There are eight certifications for Oncology Nurses. The Oncology Nursing Certification Corp has nationally accredited certification designed for Registered Nurses.

How much do Oncology Nurses make? $65,470


What does an Oncology Nurse do?

Working as an Oncology nurse you should enjoy a faster-paced environment along with the ability to keep up with current cancer research and treatments. Some duties oncology nurses perform include:

  • Administer chemotherapy
  • Administer IV antibodies and other intravenous agents
  • Perform history and physical assessments
  • Administer medications and monitor patient reactions and progress
  • Perform patient checkups
  • Create supportive environment and answer family and patient questions
  • Assess current patient state of condition
  • Collect laboratory results

Oncology nurse’s job can vary widely. This is due to the many different types of cancers along with the patient’s unique treatments required. Oncology nurses educate their patients about the chemotherapy they are administering and explain the possible complications such as fever or bacteria.

Deciding to become an Oncology nurse can offer you a career where you can quickly fall in love with your patients additionally creating an everlasting bond. Many oncology nurses would agree that working with patients who have cancer frequently generates a more personal and extraordinary kind of relationship.

Additionally, many feel caring for cancer patients is unlike caring for patients who are not chronically ill or have a terminal disease. Patients tend to be frightened but are willing to communicate openly and tend to trust Oncology nurses with their most guarded feelings. Oncology nursing will require you to want to be there, want to help the patient, if the patient perceives your heart is not in it, the patient will feel it.

Many of the patients are willing to fight for their lives and the lives of their families who are affected by their illness. Oncological nurses focus on providing comfort and peace of mind by keeping their patients as comfortable as possible.


What education will I need to become an Oncology Nurse?

If you would like to begin working as an Oncological Nurse, you will first need to become a Registered Nurse (RN). Several seasoned nurses who are RN’s with diplomas that have passed the NCLEX-RN work as Oncology nurses.

Although not having a degree is possible to obtain employment as an oncology nurse, it is best to earn your degree. To become an Oncology nurse, you could earn your Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) this takes 2 years or obtain your Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) that can take 4 years to complete.


What certification is available for Oncology Nurses?

Some employers will require you to obtain the Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) certification. There are several benefits to earning your certification such as being recognized for your professional knowledge and skills as an Oncology Nurse.

The eligibility requirement for the OCN certification are:

  1. Current Registered Nurse (RN) License
  2. Minimum of at least 12 months experiences working as an RN
  3. At least 1,000 hours or more experience in oncology nursing practice
  4. Ten contact hours or more of continuing education in oncology

If you would like to advance your knowledge, skills, and position, you could further your career and become an Oncology Nurse Practitioner. Oncology Nurse practitioners provide direct patient care to patients with cancer and can specialize in some specialties.

To become an Oncology Nurse Practitioner you will need a graduate degree. You will need to enroll in a Master degree program that has a concentration in oncology.

After you complete your Master Degree program, you can apply for your Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) certification through your state board of nursing.

Once you have finished with your graduate degree, you can then become a certified nurse practitioner by earning your certification from the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation.

The eligibility to take the Advanced Oncology Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP) certification you will need:

  1. Active RN license
  2. Graduate degree from an accredited nurse practitioner program that is in oncology
  3. 500 clinical supervised hours
  4. Graduate level oncology course taken or 30 hours of oncology continued education


Career Outlook

According to the Cancer Society, over a million people are diagnosed annually creating a large demand for caring nurses within this specialty. The outlook for Oncology nurses is excellent. This is particularly the case for oncology nurses that go into home health care this is expected to be a growing area.

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