Shannon Southwick is not a cancer survivor herself, but she watched as her 30-year-old sister battled breast cancer and managed to beat it. She told Southwick that the attentive and compassionate care that she received from her oncology nurses allowed her to pull through that breast cancer diagnosis into remission, a realization that inspired Southwick to become an oncology nurse.
When patients undergo cancer treatment, their oncology nurses are always there for support, comfort, and medical guidance. While doctors bounce between dozens of patients every day, nurses are committed to specific patients and come to form close bonds with them as they fight deadly cancers.
As Southwick explains, “I love helping patients and family members with a difficult diagnosis, such as cancer, and providing the best care possible through their entire treatment process. Knowing that I have made a difference gives me such satisfaction.” Of course, working as an oncology nurse is hardly easy, and there are plenty of challenges and moments of heartache watching people suffer.
The chief roles of an oncology nurse include monitoring the physical conditions of patients, prescribing medication, administering chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, and providing unconditional moral support to patients as they fight their diseases. Other roles include maintaining health records, providing cancer prevention counseling, and creating illness management strategies.
Southwick emphasizes these points: “An oncology nurse needs to be passionate, compassionate, caring, spiritual, and enthusiastic about their work. I often tell student nurses and my children that they should find a career that they absolutely love and are passionate about. Oncology nursing is tough, but it is one of the most rewarding jobs you will ever have.”
Considering the nursing shortage that experts predict will occur by 2020, nurses who pursue an oncology focus will be rewarded with many job opportunities and options for career growth. From hospitals and physician’s offices to outpatient care facilities, there is always a high demand for oncology nurses.