Cancer is an emotionally and physically taxing disease and unfortunately, it’s more common than it should be. There are over 1.8 million new cancer patients diagnosed each year in the United States alone. While dangerous, working with qualified, caring healthcare workers can improve outcomes. If you want to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients, becoming an oncology nurse might be for you.
Before you start searching for oncology nurse jobs, it’s important to understand the tasks associated with this role, the needed education, and how much you can expect to make. Here’s what you should know about using your nursing license to provide cancer patient care.
What does an oncology nurse do?
As an oncology nurse, you’re responsible for caring for patients who have cancer or are at risk. Nurses in this role administer cancer treatments, assess symptoms, and help build the right treatment plan. Because cancer is such a draining disease, it’s crucial that oncology nurses develop a good relationship with their patients. This allows them to understand what patients need physically, emotionally, and mentally during treatment.
Patients also look to oncology nurses for answers about cancer symptoms and treatments. Usually, oncology nurses work with one type of cancer, such as breast cancer or lung cancer. Having an in-depth knowledge of the types of cancer your patients have can help you provide better care.
Where do oncology nurses work?
Oncology nurses work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, independent practices, and outpatient practices. Some even work at universities or university-affiliated hospitals, helping with cancer research and trials.
Oncology nurse salary
The job description sounds rewarding, but how much do oncology nurses make? On average, oncology nurses bring home $83,100 a year, Salary.com estimates. The range of salaries is usually between $66,000-101,000, which is on the high end of North Carolina nursing salaries.
The exact amount someone makes depends on their education level, experience as a nurse, and if they have any certifications in oncology. The more specialized training and years of experience, the more you’ll make.
How to become an oncology nurse
The initial steps to become an oncology nurse are similar to most nursing specialities:
Get your ADN or BSN from an accredited university
Pass the NCLEX and become a LPN or RN in North Carolina
Gain experience as a nurse, hopefully in an oncology practice
Get certified in oncology. Each program has different clinical hours required before applying.
To make oncology nursing education more affordable, the Oncology Nursing Society of North Carolina offers scholarships and other resources.
Oncology nurse certifications
Usually, an oncology certification is a specialization in a master of science in nursing (MSN) program or is a post-master’s certificate. In North Carolina, Duke University offers a great oncology certificate and MSN specialization. With either option, students take specialized courses and complete clinical hours in oncology.
Depending on your career interests, a certificate in radiation therapy may also be useful. Atrium Health has a good program in this subspecialty. There also could be some free CEUs with foundational knowledge, though they wouldn’t go as in-depth as a certification.
Where to apply for oncology nurse jobs
While there could be some oncology nurse jobs on Indeed or LinkedIn, odds are they’ll be harder to find. Instead, you’ll want to search for a job platform for, and only for, nurses.
To start your search, download a nurse-specific job app, such as HireMe Healthcare. Our app will match you with dream nursing roles, and there are plenty of oncology nursing roles. We’ll also help you optimize your profile so employers understand the value you bring to the role right away. Download our free app today.