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.
Today, September 8, celebrates the nurses who work with children and families who are often facing some of the most frightening times of their lives.
As Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses Day, today honors a nursing career path in which nurses rely on their expertise to help patients and families navigate diagnoses of cancer and blood disorders.
The Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON) notes how nurses bring technical nursing skills to this role, but they also rely heavily on their compassionate care skills. Working with infants, children, and adolescents with potentially life-threatening diseases requires a high degree of sensitivity. But pediatric hematology/oncology nurses also work with the family unit to help them understand medical plans, procedures, results, and potential outcomes.
But the deeply rewarding career offers the opportunity to touch lives in a way few other professions allow. Pediatric hematology/oncology nurses often form close bonds with both their patients and with the families who grow to rely on them for a level of care that respects their difficult situation.
They are also there to motivate patients when needed and to comfort them when that’s the only thing necessary in the moment. These nurses are continually assessing medical, physical, emotional, and social needs of their patients and families.
If you’re interested in working in this area of nursing, be sure to train in the environment for a while to help you decide, either through a clinical, an internship, or after you earn your degree. APHON recommends beginning in a pediatric inpatient unit so you gain an understanding of the pediatric care environment. Pediatric hematology/oncology nurses can work in various settings including inpatient, outpatient, home care, free-standing centers, hospitals, or physician’s offices.
Because nurses in this area need to keep current in a fast-paced and constantly evolving field, a BSN is a good goal to begin. Certification will keep you up-to-date on the newest treatments and evidence-based practices, but pediatric hematology/oncology nurses should continue to keep themselves informed on their own as well. Join a professional organization to meet others in your field and gain insight and education.
If you are a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse, take this day to feel proud of your work and your patient and family care. With such an intense and sometimes incredibly stressful environment, be sure to practice self care. Taking care of yourself will help you be a better nurse.
And if you have pediatric hematology/oncology nurses in your life, this is a great day to appreciate all they do.
With September designated as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, it’s especially fitting to recognize the nurses who care for these young patients with a day to honor their compassionate work.
September 8 marks Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurse Day, the fifth such celebration of its kind. Spearheaded by the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON), the day recognizes the work of caring for children, teens, and young adults who have cancer or blood disorders. In addition, the nurses are also supports and sources of knowledge for the families and loved ones of these children who have been diagnosed with life-threatening and life-changing diseases and disorders.
APHON is working steadily to have states recognize and celebrate September 8 as an officially dedicated day. Organizations and the health care teams within them can help these efforts by notifying legislators of the importance of honoring the work in this challenging and rewarding field.
If you are interested in taking action to support these efforts or just honoring a pediatric hematology/ oncology nurse in your life, there’s lots you can do.
Write to your legislators to inform them about the day and propose legislation to have the day officially recognized in your state. You can also invite legislators to a presentation to tell them about this important role in the lives of children and families and health care organizations. Teach them about what you do—in short order they will be amazed.
Use social media for one of its best purposes –spreading good news far and wide. Post on Facebook, chat on Twitter, and post pics on Instagram of you and your fellow nursing team. Use #pediatrichematologyoncologynursesday to bring it all together.
Say thank you to your team or to the pediatric hematology/oncology nurses in your life. Working with children who are fighting these diseases is uplifting, emotional, and essential for the children. Let these nurses know how crucial their work is by spreading a little joy throughout the day and making them feel appreciated.
If you’re a nurse and are interested in exploring this field, contact APHON to learn about some of the requirements and skills you’ll need. A BSN is recommended for pediatric hematology/oncology nurses, and you’ll probably want to work in a general pediatric unit so you can get a feeling for what it’s like working with kids. After gaining some on-the-job experience, getting certification as a Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON) with the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation will boost your confidence, your skill set, and your professional credentials.
Happy Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses Day!
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