Oncology Nurse Training

Written by jason prader | 13/05/2017
Oncology Nurse Training
Oncology nurses offer specialist care to cancer patients. (nurse with a syringe image by Photosani from Fotolia.com)

An oncology nurse provides specialist care and emotional support to patients undergoing or recovering from cancer treatments. Oncology nurses work under the guidance of qualified doctors and also carry out research activities and administrative duties, such as patient charting and medical reports. Oncology nurses also assist medical specialists with the administration of radiation chemotherapies. As of June 2010, the average salary for an oncology nurse was £37,700, according to the Simply Hired website.


Oncology Nurse Training
Oncology nurse candidates require a BSN from an accredited university. (graduate girl image by Maria Bell from Fotolia.com)

Oncology nurse candidates are required to complete a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited university before undertaking specialist training. Candidates can also complete a two-year associate degree or a two- to three-year diploma. Nursing degree programs offer a range of key skills for nurses undertaking a career in any specialist path, such as diagnostics, first aid administration and medical assessments of patients. Some colleges run internship programs, which offer students the chance to learn about core aspects of the nursing profession from practicing nurses.

Specialist Experience

Oncology Nurse Training
Oncology nurse candidates can gain experience in hospital emergency rooms. (Paramedics image by JASON WINTER from Fotolia.com)

Oncology nurse candidates will need to learn particular cancer care skills either through coursework conducted during their BSN degrees, clinical practice or further education, as stated on the All Nursing schools website. Bachelor's degree graduates often find work placements in hospital emergency rooms or in the general care division of health care centres after completing their studies. Candidates should search online or contact the career office during the final college of semester for help securing positions.


Oncology Nurse Training
Oncology nurses can gain certification through the ONCC. (Blank award certificate form image by Stasys Eidiejus from Fotolia.com)

Once sufficient experience has been gained in a work placement, oncology nurse candidates can apply for certification. Certification for oncology nurses is provided by the Oncology Nurse Certification Corporation (ONCC). Certified nurses earn significantly more than those who are uncertified. Some states require oncology nurses to be certified before being permitted to practice. Other states merely recommend it, but finding work is likely to be more difficult without accreditation. To improve their skills further, nurses can also undertake a two-day class on chemotherapy offered by the Oncology Nursing Society, as indicated on the Degree Directory website.


Oncology Nurse Training
Oncology nurse practitioners provide guidance to specialist nursing teams. (meeting image by Tribalstar from Fotolia.com)

Once qualified as an oncology nurse, candidates can go on to become oncology nurse practitioners. These are advanced practice nurses (APNs) who have attained a master's degree in nursing. An oncology nurse practitioner can work in more senior nursing roles including educator, senior research coordinator and consultancy. Oncology nurse practitioners provide guidance to nursing teams and liaise with the families of cancer patients to discuss care administration.

Advanced Certification

Oncology Nurse Training
Oncology nurse practitioners require 500 hours experience before being eligible for certification. (CLOCK image by SKYDIVECOP from Fotolia.com)

Oncology nurse practitioners need to complete a master of science in nursing (MSN). This degree is usually attained through a two-year course of graduate study. Once completed, graduates can register with the state board as an advanced practice nurse (APN). Oncology nurse practitioners require a minimum of 500 hours of supervised clinical experience in oncology before becoming eligible to take the certified exam to practice as an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner.


Oncology Nurse Training
Some oncology nurses specialise in caring for children. (Teddy bear as a patient in hospital image by Monika 3 Steps Ahead from Fotolia.com)

Some oncology nurses occupy specialist roles caring for children cancer patients. Nurses in this role can gain certification as paediatric oncology nurses. Oncology nurses can also specialise in key areas such as bone marrow transplants and in sedative care for terminal cancer patients.

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