Beyond the Bedside: Oncology Nursing

When a person is diagnosed with any type of cancer, they will become very familiar with the oncology team. They will turn to them for care and treatment. The oncology nurse is one person that the patient will probably interact with the most. If you find yourself in a situation where oncology is part of your life, here’s what you need to know about the oncology nurse.

What Do They Do?

Cancer is a sort of blanket term that refers to lots of different presentations of the same disease. Every person who has cancer will experience it in a different way and it can affect the body very differently from person to person. The oncology nurse is responsible for bringing knowledge and care skills to offer treatment, monitor physical conditions, and even administer chemotherapy.

The oncology nurse must also work with patients who are at risk of developing cancer as well as helping family members cope with the diagnosis. Much of her duties include education as well, through helping the patient and their family understand the diagnoses and learn how to deal with it in their daily lives.

Traits of a Good Oncology Nurse

A specialist oncology nurse should possess certain traits that make him or her effective in her position. You’ll notice that some of them are similar to what all nurses should possess.

  1. Compassion

A patient who has just received a cancer diagnosis is facing one of the most frightening moments of their lives. They will be afraid and possibly in pain. They may not know what to do next. The oncology nurse must show compassion for these people. Fear and pain can make people sometimes act in a way that is not nice or appropriate and the compassionate nurse understands this and won’t hold it against them.

  1. Patience

A cancer diagnosis is a complicated thing and most patients don’t have the scientific knowledge to really comprehend exactly what’s going on. Thus, the great oncology nurse will take the time to explain in layman’s terms the basics of the disease. She will express patience as she answers questions and helps the patient receive treatment.

  1. Knowledge

Because cancer diagnoses vary so greatly between patients, an excellent oncology nurse will keep learning and improving her understanding of the disease. She will keep up to date with the latest information coming out and will strive to expand her knowledge whenever she can. With a seemingly infinite number of types of cancer, the oncology nurse will do her best to understand both the broad picture of cancer and how that interacts with the specific patient.

  1. Teamwork

A complex diagnosis like cancer means that the treatment team will consist of a few more people than would be appropriate in other circumstances. Therefore, an oncology nurse needs to have skills in working with a team. She will be cooperative and proactive as she works with physicians and specialists with the same goal of healing the patient.

Roles of an Oncology Nurse

A nurse’s primary role is that of working closely with the patient to administer treatments prescribed by the physician. However, an oncology nurse has a few other roles to fill as well. They must also act as researchers, consultants, educators, and managers. They must be able to work quickly and smoothly to best treat patients. Here are a few things you can expect to see an oncology nurse taking care of.

  1. Developing Care Plans

It is a nurse’s duty to create personalized care plans for each cancer patient under their care. This includes involving family members who will be responsible for helping the patient get to appointments, etc.

  1. Identify and Treat Symptoms

All nurses are responsible for this item, but an oncology nurse must be able to distinguish between cancer-related issues and regular health problems that may arise. They must have a wealth of knowledge to be able to do this.

  1. Collaborate with a Team

As mentioned above, a good oncology nurse will have excellent teamwork skills, since this is one of her primary roles. As she collaborates with her team to share information and skills, she not only enhances her own abilities but will also enhance those of her team members.

  1. Offer Personal Care

Aside from offering physical treatment and care to patients, an oncology nurse must also offer support and personal care. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is scary, so a good nurse will offer encouragement, motivation, even helpful techniques patients can use to mitigate pain and worry.

These are certainly not all the roles that an oncology nurse must fill, but they are some of the main ones. If you find yourself in contact with an oncology nurse, don’t forget that they are working hard to help you or your family member.