Being a pediatric oncology nurse is more than just a career path; oncology nurses work with young patients and their families to overcome sickness and cancer. For these reasons, preparing to be a pediatric oncology nurse is a path that requires hard work, dedication and compassion.
A pediatric oncology nurse is responsible for handling any questions or concerns that patients and families may have. Pediatric oncology nurses serve as a liaison between the doctors and patients, and they continually asses the progress and outcome of the children. Furthermore, it’s the pediatric nurses that provide care and concern throughout the child’s treatment.
To start your career as a pediatric oncology nurse, you need to enroll in a college or university that has a nursing program. Although it’s best to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you can begin your nursing career by getting an associate’s degree. Courses that you take will focus on math and science, as well as hands-on training. Much of the training is done at local hospitals, emergency rooms and doctor’s offices.
Because nursing is a popular career choice for young women and practicing nurses, there are many nursing programs that are designed to fit into a busy lifestyle. Some of these are distance programs, which focus on more hands-on experience and less time in the classroom. Other programs are done primarily online (except for the hands-on experience) and at your own convenience.
In order to become a pediatric oncology nurse, you must also become a Registered Nurse, or RN. You will need to take and pass the National License Council Examination. This test is what certifies people to be a Registered Nurse in their area. Check with the school or program that you are attending, as many require that you pass the test with a score of 85% or higher.
Doing an internship at a nearby hospital can also help you prepare to be a pediatric oncology nurse. Internships may or may not be paid, but the knowledge you receive firsthand is invaluable. During an internship, you will learn how to work with patients and their families on a physical and emotional level.
Once you have acquired the necessary education and certification programs, you are ready to start your journey as a pediatric oncology nurse. You can search for open positions online or call around to local hospital oncology units. If you did an internship, leverage that opportunity to find open positions. You can also navigate the website of the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses. Choose to fill out a profile to increase your chances of finding a position in your area.
Once you have been in practice as a pediatric oncology nurse for one year, you can apply for certification with the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation. You can also continue your education to become an oncology nurse practitioner. This requires a master’s program and supervised clinical hours.