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Should I get an Oncology Nurse Certification?

Higher Education Articles August 27, 2013

If you enjoy comforting and caring for people who are sick and afraid, you may be considering obtaining an oncology nursing certification. The base entry requirement is to be a registered nurse (RN) and have a bachelor’s degree in the science of nursing (BSN).

Paths to Oncology Nursing

Oncology nursing certification requires specific knowledge in cancer care. This can be gained through continuing education, coursework or even clinical experience. Once you learn enough, you can take the oncology certified nurse exam. Of course, you must pass in order to get your certificate.

Is There a Higher Level than the Certificate?

Yes, there is another step before reaching the pinnacle of oncology nursing credentials. If you gain a master’s in the science of nursing (MSN) degree, you can embark on becoming an oncology nurse practitioner or advanced practice nurse. Once you have your degree, you will need at least 500 hours of supervised practice in a clinical oncology setting. Then, you can take the exam to become an advanced oncology certified nurse practitioner.

What Is Involved in Oncology Nursing?

The daily tasks of oncology nurses include duties like administering chemotherapy, managing treatment side effects, offering education to patients’ families, and, of course, caring for the patients themselves. Nurses also assess the ongoing needs of patients and their families to ensure that the proper care is provided at all stages.

An oncology nurse can work in many different environments. Hospitals come to mind first, but they are far from the only option. Cancer clinics and medical offices also need nurses with this specialty. Oncology nurses may also provide home health care.

Needless to say, all nurses need to know how to relate to their patients in a calming and effective way. If the patients are in a specific age group or other demographic, the nurse will also need to be able to relate to the general needs of that group. This can be especially important when the patients are children or elderly people.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to All Nursing Schools, the median salary for this position is $64,690, but this is only a general guideline. Geographic location, employer, setting, total experience and other factors can greatly influence the salary a particular nurse will receive.

The job outlook for oncology nursing is exceptionally great. This is because cancer is a disease that disproportionately affects older people. The aging baby boomer generation means that there will soon be a bubble of cancer patients in the system. These patients will cause health care facilities to need more oncology nurses, doctors and other health care professionals than has been the norm in recent years.

Thanks to the great job outlook, this is a great time to get into oncology nursing. If you’ve been on the fence, hop off, get your BSN, and upgrade to the oncology nursing certificate. You’ll definitely be needed. Best of all, you’ll be able to help people get through a type of illness universally regarded as one of the scariest in existence.

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Quick Fact
In 2018, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma.*
*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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