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Oncology Nursing Employment Positions

  • Published: 2009-02-19 (Rev. 2010-07-03) - Contact: Michael A. Morales
  • Synopsis: Oncology nurses provide care for chronically or critically ill cancer patients and are a necessity for the health care industry.

Main Document

Oncology nurses provide care for chronically or critically ill cancer patients.

This field of nursing did not begin until the 1970s, when rapid advancements in the treatment of cancers made nurses who specialized in cancer a necessity for the health care industry.

Today, oncology nurses choose sub-specialties within the oncology field. Some of the most common specializations include specializing in:


Radiation Therapy

Surgical Oncology

Bone Marrow Transplants

Particular types of cancer - breast cancer, pediatric cancer care, leukemia, head and neck oncology

Prevention and Early Detection

Palliative and Hospice Care

What Oncology Nurses Do - Oncology nurses can be found in a wide variety of work settings - some work in hospitals or cancer clinics, while others work in private offices and hospice care centers. The majority of oncology nurses work in a hospital setting, where they are a part of a multidisciplinary team that includes doctors, specialists, therapists (physical, occupational, and respiratory), social workers, nurses, and nurse assistants.

Some oncology nurses focus more on screening and detecting cancer before it begins. These nurses are often active in the local community, offering cancer education from their office or hospital department.

How to Become an Oncology Nurse - Oncology nurses are registered nurses (RNs). Like all RNs, they complete various levels of schooling (either an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in nursing) and then look for a position within the field of oncology - they do not usually require special certification. Often times, hospitals offer their own courses for new oncology nurses, helping the nurses to further their education and learn more about the needs of the cancer patients they work with.

Oncology nursing certificates are also available. For dedicated, career oncology nurses, getting further certification is a way to prove their dedication to the field and advance their career.

For new RN graduates interested in entering the field, the best way to start is to simply get a job in an oncology unit. RNs can increase their level of education as their career continues, whether that means gaining certification as an oncology nurse or returning to school to gain a master's degree as an oncology nurse practitioner.

Salaries and Job Prospects for Oncology Nurses - Like all nursing jobs, positions as an oncology nurse are relatively easy to find. Oncology nurses are in particularly high demand as the Baby Boom generation ages and begins to develop more serious health issues, including cancer. New RNs generally earn around $35,000 per year to start, but experienced oncology nurses can earn double this amount. Furthermore, oncology nurse practitioners can earn up to around $125,000 per year.

Reference: Michael Morales is an EMT - Paramedic and program director for Vital Ethics Inc., providing basic and advanced life support training and certification programs to health care professionals


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