Oncology Nurse Job Description

An Oncology Nurse is a Registered Nurse (RN) who specializes in providing care and treatment to patients with cancer. They care for critically or chronically ill cancer patients by administering treatment and providing information and support. Oncology nurses work with physicians as a part of interdisciplinary teams to care for cancer patients in hospitals or clinics. Depending on their experience, some Oncology Nurses serve in a management role.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not collect data on individual nurse specializations, but the demand for Registered Nurses across the board is growing. Employment for Registered Nurses is expected to grow by 16 percent by 2024, creating over 439,000 more jobs.

 

Oncology Nurse Duties and Responsibilities 

To achieve their primary duty of providing nursing care for patients undergoing treatment for cancer, an Oncology Nurse is responsible for many different tasks. We analyzed several job listings to identify these core Oncology Nurse duties and responsibilities.

Assess Patient Health

Oncology Nurses examine and assess the full health of patients. They focus on physical, mental and emotional status, as well as nutrition, pain, and family involvement.

Develop Plan of Care for Patient

In consultation with physicians and specialists, the Oncology Nurse develops a treatment plan for the patient. They formulate a goal-directed plan of care and establish treatment priorities based on patient needs and the availability of resources.

Administer Treatments

Oncology Nurses assist with the administration of chemotherapy and radiation, as well as supportive care and treatment for patient symptoms. They also monitor, evaluate and record the treatment results.

Educate Patients and Families

A large part of the job of an Oncology Nurse is to help patients, and their families, understand the disease, the treatment plan, and any possible side effects. They help to translate complex medical terminology to the patient and answer questions. Oncology Nurses may also advise patients on disease prevention and personal care.

Provide Support

An Oncology Nurse must be prepared to provide support and guidance throughout a patient’s treatment. They link patients and their families to healthcare services and communicate with the doctors and other members of staff on behalf of the patient. Oncology Nurses provide emotional stability and support as patients and their families handle a very stressful and painful treatment process.

 

Oncology Nurse Skills

A successful Oncology Nurse is compassionate and emotionally strong, and a good communicator. They should be conscientious, detail-oriented, and work well under pressure. In addition to these general skills and personality traits, employers are seeking Oncology Nurse candidates with the following skills.

Core skills: Based on job listings we reviewed, employers want Oncology Nurses with these core skills. If you want to work as an Oncology Nurse, focus on the following.

  • A current RN licensure, PT licensure, or OT licensure in the state of practice
  • CPR and BLS certification
  • Clinical knowledge regarding specialty care services
  • Knowledge of word processing, Electronic Health Records and database software applications
  • Ability to teach both clinical and non-clinical personnel regarding care and diagnostics services
  • Ability to work collaboratively with a team to care for patients

Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Oncology Nurse toolbox and broaden your career options.

  • Certification in a specialty area
  • Prior Oncology experience
  • Bilingual in Spanish, French, Italian or Arabic
  • Knowledge of regulatory requirements (IRBs, FDA, ICH-GCP, OHRP)

 

Oncology Nurse Resources

We searched the Web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as an Oncology Nurse. From insightful blogs to industry groups, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect and engage.

On the Web

Both Sides of the Beside – A blog by Christine Magnus Moore, an Oncology Nurse turned cancer patient, this provides insights into what it is like to care for and be a cancer patient.

The Nurse View – Links to educational resources specifically curated for Oncology Nurses.

O-Pro: Portal for Oncology Professionals – Find helpful links, recent news, or join the forum to discuss issues with other Oncology Professionals.

Industry Groups

Oncology Nursing Society – A community of over 39,000 members, with tons of practice resources and the latest on advocacy and policy.

American Society of Clinical Oncology – Find out about up-to-date research, professional development resources, and networking opportunities.

On LinkedIn

The Oncology Nurse Community – Network and share knowledge with over 19,000 oncology nurses and professionals.

Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators – Join over 2,000 Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators, a specialized group of Oncology Nurses who help patients manage their care.

Oncology Nurse Books

Core Curriculum for Oncology Nursing – The definitive text for Oncology Nursing Curriculum.

Pocket Oncology (Pocket Notebook Series) – A simple but comprehensive read to understand or review the fundamentals of cancer management.

OCN Exam Practice Questions – Use this to practice for the Oncology Nursing Exam, or just to get a sense of the breadth of knowledge required.

 

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