How to become an oncology nurse

Oncology nurses are specialized in their field, combining their knowledge, technical skill and compassion to be a part of a care team for patients undergoing cancer treatments, survivors and those approaching the end stages of life. Oncology nurses must understand this multifaceted disease and its effects on the patient and their family.

Roles of oncology nurses

Oncology nurses function in a variety of roles throughout the stages of a patient's cancer journey. From early prevention, screening and detection to treatment plans and acute care and finally end of life decisions, these nurses focus on the whole patient. By guiding the patient and their family through what is often a confusing and devastating time, oncology nurses have an important place in this continuum of care.

Where oncology nurses practice

Oncology nurses practice in a variety of delivery care settings. Areas include inpatient or outpatient settings at community hospitals or multi-hospital systems. These nurses work in home healthcare, hospice, public health and community nursing. They develop private practices, work at physicians' offices, teach at schools of nursing and practice in extended care facilities.

Choosing the right educational path

For nurses who want to move into this area of care, a nursing program that provides information specific to oncology can be a huge asset. Above the basic educational foundation necessary to practice as a professional nurse, possessing a cancer-specific knowledge base and demonstrated clinical expertise in care for patients with cancer will position an oncology nurse to provide the highest level of care.

Choosing a degree, such as the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from California State University San Marcos, that incorporates courses specifically for oncology nurses will set your feet on the path to entering this specialized field.

The BSN advantage

Oncology nurses who earn a bachelor's degree enjoy greater career advancement, higher salary and opportunities for leadership within the field. Research studies have shown that nurses with a BSN may provide overall better quality patient care and can keep up with the demands of this ever-changing field.

The difference in curriculum

Within the curriculum of the online RN to BSN degree at California State University San Marcos is a unique class focused on the biology of cancer. Instead of a generalized biology course, students in this course will study the chemistry, cell biology and etiology of human cancer. In addition, students will gain an understanding of the characteristics of tumor cells, malignant transformation of cells, tumor viruses, chemical and environment carcinogens, effects of radiation, oncogenes and the genetics of cancer.

In addition, the nursing core at California State University San Marcos includes a bioethics course, which helps oncology nurses understand right to die issues, among other critical topics.

Caring and compassion

Oncology nurses fill a special role in the caregiving team for a patient dealing with this life-threatening disease. These professionals go beyond treating the disease to caring for the patient (and their family) in a holistic way.

Learn more about the CSUSM online RN to BSN program.


The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice:

Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow, Oncology Nurse:

Spotlight On Oncology Nurses:–-part-i-qa

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