How to Prepare for a Career in Oncology Nursing
Oncology care is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, nursing careers that offers opportunities to care for patients in all stages of life. It’s a chance to help guide and support your patients through one of the most difficult times in their lives and be inspired by their determination, hope, and faith.
The career possibilities as an oncology nurse are endless. You can care for patients in the hospital by disease type, take on roles that help patients navigate their cancer care, give infusions as a clinic nurse, care for patients receiving radiation therapy, work in education or as nurse scientists, and so much more.
As the professional home to more than 35,000 nurses, ONS has been advancing excellence in oncology nursing and quality cancer care for more than 40 years and provides resources curated specifically to help prepare student nurses for a rewarding career in oncology nursing. Plus, as a student, your ONS membership is free!
The benefits of student membership (https://www.ons.org/student-nurse-resources) include local chapter membership, career resources, free online courses, scholarships, and subscriptions to three award-winning publications. These resources can help you prepare for the transition into the nursing workforce and into the gratifying specialty of oncology nursing.
In addition to joining ONS as a free student member (https://www.ons.org/join-renew-membership), here are some more actions you can take to jump start your oncology nursing career:
- Think about volunteering or becoming a nursing assistant on an oncology unit. This can provide an opportunity to learn oncology nursing in practice.
- Seek out internships or externships that provide opportunities to work in different cancer settings during and after graduation from nursing school.
- Consider contacting employers in your area to express interest and ask about their hiring requirements.
- Build your knowledge in cancer-related issues through conferences, online resources, and journal articles. This will reinforce your interest in the field. As an ONS student member, you receive free access to our Cancer Basics Course. (https://www.ons.org/courses/cancer-basics) Many chapters put on educational programs as well. And listen to the Oncology Nursing Podcast (https://www.ons.org/explore-resources?display=source&source=2696&ref=RO) to gain new knowledge on the go.
- Use ONS resources for student nurses (https://www.ons.org/student-nurse-resources) to get an understanding of the types of oncology nursing subspecialties you might be interested in, how to have your clinical questions answered, and career tips as you start your journey.
- Find a mentor in the oncology nursing field to help guide you through this journey and hold you accountable to your goals. Use this form (https://voice.ons.org/sites/default/files/2019-07/NurseCareerPlan%20Final.pdf) to organize your thoughts prior to meeting with your mentor and share a copy with him or her.
You have taken the first step by reading this article. Now, create your plan and move into action to land your dream job as an oncology nurse!