Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses Have Family Approach

Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses Have Family Approach

If you’re looking for a meaningful nursing career specialty and love kids, the work that pediatric hematology/oncology nurses do is life changing for nurses and patients alike.

September 8 honors nurses in this specialty with Pediatric Hematology/ Oncology Nurses Day. This special day was first celebrated in 2010 when the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON) initiated it and it falls during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Pediatric hematology/oncology nurses work with the youngest patients and their families as they navigate through the difficult diagnosis of cancer or a blood disorder. From caring for the smallest children to adolescents and young adults, these nurses use their expert knowledge of evidence-based practice in the latest treatment and care of these diseases to help patients. Using equipment and treatments that are state-of-the-art, pediatric hematology/oncology nurses must stay current in the rapid developments in the field so they are able to provide the best nursing care possible.

As with other nursing specialties, pediatric hematology/oncology nursing requires nurses to have a nuanced approach to caring for patients who don’t always understand the scope of their sometimes painful treatments or who have to cope with symptoms or aftereffects of medications. But they also must work carefully with the families and loved ones of their young patients who also might be learning about cancer care or hematology conditions for the first time. There’s a lot of information to understand and process and so hematology/oncology nurses are excellent educators to help everyone involved have the information they need.

As nurses gain more hands-on experience in the field, they learn how to care for children, how to help them through any treatments, and how to bring some normalcy into their lives as is possible. A hematology/oncology nurse works with a compassionate family-centered approach to include all the loved ones who are with their patients and caring for them at home or staying with them in a hospital or facility.

Despite all the progress in cancer care and treatment, nurses know they will lose some patients. They need to have the support available to help with any loss, and many nurses say the work itself helps. Because they work with children, the boundless spirit of their patients keeps them going. Even children going through multiple hospitalizations want some of the fun of childhood and so they bring continual joy to their care giving team.

Nurses who are considering this specialty should first spend some time shadowing a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse and take some time to be on a unit where these nurses work. By spending time with nurses doing this work in real time, you’ll be able to see what a typical day is like. Pediatric hematology/oncology nurses should have a minimum of an associate’s degree, but a BSN is preferable because of the additional knowledge, critical thinking skills, and internship or externship opportunities available. And while spending time on a pediatric hematology/oncology unit is necessary, nurses may also want to work on a general pediatric unit with a pediatric nurse as well, to understand the differences in caring for a younger population.

And if you have pediatric hematology/oncology nurses in your life, today’s a great day to thank them for all they do for the lives of the young patients they work with.

Oncology Nurses Offer Care and Compassion

Oncology Nurses Offer Care and Compassion

During Oncology Nursing Month, oncology nurses and the specialty they work in are honored and highlighted. Oncology nurses work with patients who have dealt with a cancer diagnosis–whether years ago or more recent. No matter when a patient hears they have cancer, the words are startling and set in motion treatment and care plans, family discussions, and life adjustments, while also triggering some powerful emotional responses.

Typically, a nurse cares for the health of a patient with cancer, but also understands that the patient’s diagnosis touches many lives especially that of family and friends. Oncology nurses understand their very special role and help their patients process varied health issues, have hope for the future, and have compassion for the often grueling road of cancer treatment.

While many oncology nurses work in centers and offices devoted to cancer treatment and care, there are also other important and challenging roles they can explore on different career platforms.

An oncology nurse may work with cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy as they monitor and care for patients on treatment days. Nurses in this role will continually assess the patient’s response to the treatment, notice and track changes, answer questions and provide relevant information, and be a calm and strong presence for patients. Nurses may choose to treat different ages of patients–from the youngest infants with cancer to the very oldest patients. Oncology nurses have a special ability to be compassionate and empathetic as they are driven to understand the journey each patient faces and help make that journey easier by providing support. Oncology nurses may also find they are drawn to helping cancer patients with hospice care to make them as comfortable as they can.

A clinical research nurse works within a research team to advance cancer treatment, prevention, and eradication. Clinical research nurses may take a variety of roles, each of which may touch a different aspect of the research project. Nurses can act as educators, provide clinical care to research participants, and provide nursing leadership for the research facility, among other responsibilities. With so many cancer trials happening, nurses can make a direct and immediate impact in areas that are of particular interest to them or in which they have special expertise.

Oncology nurses who have worked in cancer care and treatment have much-needed expertise to share with nursing students, colleagues, the public, and government officials. Oncology nurses may teach at the undergraduate or graduate levels to inspire the next generation of nurses to work in the field, and they may chair panels and seminars at conferences. They may give talks for younger students in high school who may not know about what oncology nurses do but are interested in a nursing career and want to help people who have cancer. Oncology nurses may help lobby and inform the state and federal government to increase cancer research funding or to influence the direct impact the government can have on helping people and families affected by cancer.

Oncology nurses may advance their careers and nursing specialty by joining professional organizations like the Oncology Nursing Society. They can network with other oncology nurses to exchange information about the latest developments in cancer care, to compare nursing processes, to take advantage of targeted professional development for oncology nurses, and to act as part of a larger body of advocates for the field and the patients they care for. Nurses who join professional organizations can take on leadership roles to guide projects and advocacy and reevaluate standards in the public and private sector.

Oncology Nursing: An Innovative and Changing Field

Oncology Nursing: An Innovative and Changing Field

Oncology nurses help patients face the uncertain territory that a cancer diagnosis brings and navigate a path through treatment.

May is Oncology Nursing Month and the time is set aside to celebrate the work oncology nurses do with patients, the advocacy they bring to their specialty, and the continual professional development they engage in.

Oncology nurses are committed to the best patient care and that means they need to stay engaged in the latest research and evidence-based practices that are always emerging. Cancer care is highly innovative as new therapies, cutting-edge drugs, and novel understandings of cancer progression are discovered. Nurses who decide to specialize in oncology nursing will match their drive for continual learning with the deep empathy for what their patients and families are coping with.

If you’re interested in becoming an oncology nurse, talking with oncology nurses is helpful to begin your research. The demand for nurses who specialize in cancer care is expected to increase over the next year as life expectancy is extended, the population ages, and more people are surviving cancer with increasingly successful targeted treatment.

The first steps are to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and take the NCLEX exam to become a registered nurse. As with other nursing paths, you’ll want to gain general nursing experience where you’re likely to interact with cancer patients. Because people are surviving longer with cancer and treatments are keeping cancer either in remission or at a level where people manage the disease for years, you’re probably going to encounter people living with cancer in just about any unit you work in. You’ll begin to understand the special health needs they have, and the roadblocks they may encounter. For instance, they may have medication contradictions for other existing health conditions, or they may have to consider different approaches to new treatments they need. And they may have emotional and psychological needs to consider as you are working with them.

Cancer care, and living with cancer, is incredibly complex and touches virtually every other aspect of a patient’s life—from nutritional needs to sleep to navigating the world during a pandemic. As you begin to focus your career on oncology nursing, your experience with how all these different factors impact your patient will help you determine the best way to help and guide them while offering excellent patient care.

Connect with other oncology nurses to hear about the hot topics in the field. Organizations like the Oncology Nursing Society, the International Society for Nurses in Cancer Care, and the Oncology Nursing Foundation offer many resources for you to learn more about this career. Read up on some journals focused on oncology such as The Oncology Nurse or the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.

Certification through an organization like the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation is essential for oncology nurses because it helps you stay on top of the innovative treatments as they are implemented. Additional certifications are available as you move deeper into a specialty area of oncology nursing. The additional knowledge you’ll gain through certification will only help you provide better, more informed patient care, and your efforts will signal your commitment to being the best nurse you can be.

This field is growing and dynamic. Oncology nurses are needed in many healthcare settings, and they develop relationships with patients over the course of treatment and continued care. This nursing path is flexible, innovative, and rewarding.

Celebrate Oncology Nursing Month

Celebrate Oncology Nursing Month

As cancer treatment changes at a rapid pace, the job of an oncology nurse evolves with lightning speed. May is Oncology Nursing Month and showcases the speed, skill, and thirst for life-long learning necessary for this career.

Oncology nurses care for patients from infancy to the very oldest in a population, so the potential to specialize in specific areas is available. And because cancer occurs throughout the body and body systems, staying up-to-date on the latest developments is required for oncology nurses. The Oncology Nurses Society is an excellent resource for nurses in the field or those considering it.

The good news is that cancer patients are living longer and with a better quality of life, even with advanced cancer. Research around the world sparks new hope for targeting cancer that is present and for preventing cancer in ways never before possible. As medical researchers continue to make new discoveries, they are saving lives and giving people hope.

Because so many cancers that were often quickly fatal a generation ago are now being managed, the field of oncology nursing is adapting to care for these patients. Nurses now treat survivors of childhood cancers who are well into adulthood and requiring long-term surveillance through other life events like pregnancy or even additional medical conditions. They are also treating older patients whose cancer is manageable medically but still has significant impact on quality of life. The complexities of offering top-quality medical care for the physical disease often merges with providing top-quality care for the emotional and spiritual issues that can crop up.

Oncology nurses see the effects of cancer on entire families as well and so frequently work within a family dynamic that ranges from the most heart-breaking sadness to the most celebratory joy. Nurses who are thinking of this specialty should work in several care settings and with different patients and conditions to find a path that resonates with their interests and passion. Some nurses choose a particular specialty based on their personal experience. Becoming certified in specific areas will increase your knowledge and help your career—you can find that information through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation.

One of the primary goals in oncology nursing is education—and there’s a lot of educating that happens with a cancer diagnosis. Patients who receive a cancer diagnosis are often scared, so educating them in a way they can understand is essential. As every oncology nurse knows, there is more to it than just presenting the facts—empathy and compassion play a big role, too..

As the patient moves along through treatment, nurses are there every step of the way to help them understand how the treatment works and what kind of changes or side effects are likely or known. They offer ways to help alleviate discomfort or pain and may be able to put patients in touch with other resources (support groups, mental health support, additional home care) to help them as well.

Patients also want to know what might happen in the future and if the cancer will go away or could come back. And while tools are being developed to help the medical community get to that point, those predictions aren’t reliably available right now. Oncology nurses play a big role in helping patients live with their disease and the unpredictability that accompanies cancer. Their care and compassion are often remembered as playing a significant role in a patient’s journey.

Oncology Nurses Offer Compassionate Care

Oncology Nurses Offer Compassionate Care

No one ever wants to hear a diagnosis of cancer, but when it happens, oncology nurses are the rock-solid support many patients turn to. As the latest numbers show cancer continues to be a steadily rising health concern, oncology nurses will continue to play an essential role to patients and families.

May is Oncology Nurses Month and honors all the ways oncology nurses help their patients navigate a road they never expected to travel. Oncology nurses have duties that help patients understand a diagnosis, become educated about options and treatment, and adjust to a terminal prognosis or one that includes living a life after a cancer diagnosis and as a survivor.

The National Cancer Institute states “In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease.” However, as cancer treatments become more effective, oncology nurses are also caring for the increasing number of cancer survivors.

According to the Oncology Nursing Society, this year’s theme “The Art of Caring, The Science of Care,” highlights both the reassuring guidance and compassion nurses show as well as the intricacies of cancer treatment.

Patients and their families often need time to absorb a diagnosis of cancer, and oncology nurses are there to help them figure out what to do next. As treatment advances, they are there to offer support, give exceptional care, and prepare patients for any treatment side effects. If a patient’s diagnosis is terminal, they are able to help them adjust and live life comfortably. Oncology nurses help patients understand the medical treatment they need and the various options they might have available.

But through all the medical decisions, these nurses also offer compassionate and knowledgeable care. With the rapid-fire developments in cancer treatment, oncology nurses must stay up-to-date on the cutting edge treatments that might become available to their patients or in advising patients on how to reduce cancer risks. They are a shoulder to lean on and a valuable resource for families. They are able to help patients manage pain and discomfort, offer advice for dealing with unpleasant side effects, and report any adverse side effects of treatments.

Oncology nurses also are on the front lines, hearing patients concerns and helping to guide them through insurance issues. They ask if patients can afford the treatment and what alternatives they may have. But they are also able to hear the fear and listen to the concerns of patients and their loved ones.

Because oncology nurses are working so closely with patients, they see exactly how cancer can have a devastating impact on lives and families. From this viewpoint, they are excellent advocates for cancer policies in government, in insurance, and in research. Oncology nurses have a valuable and respected voice to help create changes in policies that impact cancer patients.

This month as oncology nurses reflect on the vast scientific knowledge they possess to the deep wells of compassion and empathy they use to support their patients, they can be reinvigorated by the reasons they go into the field. Patients and families depend on their steadfast care and the reward for this field are great.