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Oncology Nurse

As health care technology advances, a host of previously incurable diseases are now able to be treated, and some are even able to be completely eradicated. Cancer research has taken off within the past decade, and oncology nurses work with cancer patients to improve their quality of life and to provide them with the best treatments available. They often help physicians carry out cancer treatment plans, such as chemotherapy, and educate patients about how to cope with their illnesses. Many oncology nurses also assist patients in pain management, which is an important function as some cancer patients must endure a great deal of pain from the illness itself as well as from treatment.

Nurses specializing in oncology must be registered nurses (RNs) due to the sensitivity and complexity of dealing with cancer patients and their loved ones. RNs must complete either a diploma program from a nursing school, an associate degree in nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing and pass the NCLEX-RN examination, though most oncology nurses need at least an associate degree-level education. Student nurses should take courses in psychology, counseling, and other topics that will prepare them for working with patients and their families. Oncology nurses must gain certification to practice, which is available from the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC).

Oncology nursing is one of the noblest callings in health care as oncology nurses work with patients and families who are in a great deal of pain and stress. They often deal with grief and death, but in many cases, oncology nurses also witness the strength of the human spirit. It is a taxing field that is not suited for everyone, but those who work in oncology are passionate about making a difference in their patients’ lives. In addition to the rewards of working in oncology, oncology nurses make a substantial living, earning about $55,533 annually, according to PayScale, a company that specializes in compensation data.