A nursing degree in oncology is an exciting career aspect for many nurses. The need for oncology nurses is ongoing and important. The roles of an oncology nurse are changing owing to the different approaches in treating cancer over the last few decades.
From an intensive focus on bone marrow transplantation to the community focus of cancer detection, screening, and prevention, the roles vary significantly. As an oncology nurse, you will have diverse functions like direct patient care, patient support during a vulnerable time, and even administrative tasks.
Scope of Work for Oncology Nurses
Oncology nurses work in a large number of settings, including acute care hospitals, and radiation therapy departments. As an oncology nurse, you will also be practicing in several oncologic disciplines like surgical oncology, gynecologic oncology, radiation oncology, medical and pediatric oncology. A majority of oncology nurses are involved in direct patient care and practice at a generalist level with about 43% work in a multihospital system, and 24% in ambulatory or outpatient settings.
Roles of an Oncology Nurse
All nurses are expected to perform an expert assessment of a patient’s emotional and physical status, past health practices, health history, and the degree of their knowledge about disease and treatment. As an oncology nurse working for a nursing agency in Pilgrim, you will be reviewing the treatment plan along with an oncologist. You must be well versed with the knowledge of possible outcomes or complications.
As such, you may have to independently assess the general physical and emotional state of your patient. It is essential for you to conduct a thorough physical examination and examine the complete medical history of your patient. You must also be aware of the results or implication of pathology, laboratory, and imaging studies.
Assessing the patient’s understanding of the disease is necessary for reducing anxiety and formulating an effective care plan. It will also avoid confusing expectations and misunderstandings. Preparing the patient will help them to comply with treatment plans and may even impact treatment outcomes.
Once the assessment is done, you need to develop a nursing care plan based on the patient’s needs. Such a plan must promote the patient’s understanding of treatment goals, schedules, and side effects of therapy. Your plan must also consider the psychological and physical preparation and comfort of the treatment.
Oncology nurses have a better opportunity to develop a good rapport necessary for instilling disease education with patients or their families. This education must start before the therapy and must continue during and after the therapy sessions. Continuous reinforcement through structured and unstructured experiences can help them cope with their diagnosis, symptoms, and long-term adjustments.
Patient education also helps to gain information about cancer prevention, care, and develop attitudes that help individuals maintain a healthy lifestyle. You must use a combination of methods that caters to the learning style and capabilities of a patient.
Your education must enable the patients and their families to participate in deciding the long-term life and care activities, equip themselves with actions needed for oncologic emergencies and side effects of the therapy or disease. You must reiterate the essential points that will help to achieve the desired outcomes.
Coordination of Care
Working as an oncology nurse for a nursing agency in Pilgrim, you will need paly a vital role in coordinating between the sophisticated technologies that are now an integral part of cancer diagnosis and treatment. This process encompasses documentation of medical records, direct patient care, symptom management, participation in therapy, organizing referrals to other healthcare providers, and counseling throughout diagnosis, therapy, and after-care.
You must serve as the first point of contact for patients and their families. Regular and easy patient communication helps in the early recognition of emergencies and constant emotional support. Modern cancer care is made powerful by a variety of personnel who are working at a pace that is augmented by a cost-conscious staff. The coordination and communication provided by oncology nurses are an invaluable asset to patients who are frightened and confused.
Direct Patient Care
A majority of oncology nurses are involved in direct patient care. This will include delivery of chemotherapy that must be administered by the correct route and in the right dosage to the patient. Medication errors tend to have a fatal effect on the patient. Hence, it is important for oncology nurses to avoid mistakes in dosing, administration, and preparation.
Oncology nurses are challenged with a multitude of symptoms that occur in cancer patients. They triage patient problems, evaluate the symptoms, and initiate interventions when necessary. Controlling these symptoms has also been a priority. With increasing healthcare costs and limited financial sources, healthcare professionals are considering cost-effective solutions to medical and nursing treatments.
As the delivery of healthcare changes and new inventions are being integrated into cancer care, the roles of an oncology nurse will evolve. With improved research in cancer genetics, the need for oncology nursing is on the rise.