What is Pediatric Oncology Nursing?

Pediatric oncology nursing is a challenging specialty in the field of nursing that combines a love for children and the opportunity to be involved in scientific advances in the treatment of cancer. A career in pediatric oncology nursing is both challenging and rewarding.

What Does a Pediatric Oncology Nurse Do?

Pediatric oncology nursing involves providing care for children who have a variety of cancer diagnoses. This includes administering chemotherapy or other treatments under the supervision of an oncologist, but there are other duties that are just as essential. The nurse is also a part of the support system for the family of the child who is undergoing treatment by explaining treatment plans. He or she must assess the physical and psychological needs of patients and help to treat these, as well.

Room for Advancement

Clinical nurses in pediatric oncology nursing provide day-to-day care for pediatric patients, including administering treatments and providing education to children and their families. There are several routes for moving into new areas of the profession. Case manager nurses coordinate with the patient's physician team and monitor care. Some nurses may work as clinical educators. In addition, research nurses work on coming up with new treatments in collaboration with a research team.

Pediatric Oncology Nurse Practitioners

There are nurse practitioners in pediatric oncology nursing, as well. Because nurse practitioners have more extensive education than registered nurses, often including graduate degrees, they have a broader range of duties. These include day-to-day treatment and monitoring of patients. They may also work in coordinating patient care or in conducting research. NPs may order tests and medications as well as administer them. They may also work in patient advocacy and make recommendations on pain and symptom management and end-of-life issues.

Education and Training

To get a job in pediatric oncology nursing, you will need to become a registered nurse (RN). This involves completing an accredited nursing program. These may be found in universities, hospitals, and community colleges nationwide. Nursing programs require internships and/or residency programs in addition to course work. After completing the program, nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN exam and be licensed. The nursing license requires periodic renewal via continuing education coursework. A pediatric oncology nursing certification may also be required.

Salaries and Work Settings

A career in pediatric oncology nursing may pay anywhere from $40,000 to $130,000 a year. Nurses with more experience and higher education earn more than those right out of nursing school. The setting in which a nurse works also will have an impact on salary. Working in a private practice may mean a higher starting salary, for instance. Other settings a pediatric oncology nurse might work in include public heath communities, both public and private hospitals, and sometimes even a pharmaceutical company.

Pediatric oncology nursing is a challenging field. Successful nurses will combine superior clinical knowledge with a desire to help children and their families as they go through a very difficult experience.