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Career Story: Nurse Practitioner In A Cancer Care Facility

Nurse Practitioner In A Cancer Care Facility

Job Title: Nurse Practitioner

Type of Company: I work for a cancer care facility in Boston.

Education: Nursing Diploma, Peter Bent Brigham School of Nursing •• MS, Nursing, Simmons College

Previous Experience: I graduated from a nursing school as an registered nurse and worked at Brigham and Women's hospital for 8 years on a medical/surgical floor and then I went back to school at Simmons College to become a nurse practitioner. When I graduated I continued to work at Brigham and Women's as a NP in their pre-admission testing center, where I documented patient health histories and performed physical exams on patients before their surgery. After eight years of that, I transferred to a cancer care facility and into the field of radiation oncology where I have been helping patients get through cancer treatments.

Job Tasks: I am an adult nurse practitioner (NP) at a cancer care facility. I work in the department of radiation oncology. I work with two physicians who treat women with breast cancer. I meet patients initially several weeks before they start treatment for a complete health history, physical exam and patient education. I also get their consent for the radiation treatments and I schedule all testing that is required prior to starting treatment. Once patients start treatment, they usually come in daily, Monday through Friday, for about 6 weeks. I follow all of my patients through their daily treatments and help them to manage any symptoms that they're experiencing. When they've finished their treatments, I dictate a summary and schedule them to come back in 4-6 months for a routine follow-up visit.

I also help to cover other services in our department such as the lung, sarcoma and head and neck services. I help the nurses who care for those patients when they need a prescription written or they need me to assess someone who needs to be sent to the emergency room. I also help them to get intravenous fluids ordered for dehydration.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of my job are definitely when I'm able to help patients recover and regain their health. Even when patients have incurable cancer we can help them temporarily.

The worst parts of the job are when patients don't do well with their treatment and experience bad side effects or painful symptoms. Ultimately some patients do die and that is always very sad.

Job Tips: I would definitely recommend going into nursing as it is has tremendous opportunities for many different types of positions. It also has great job security and growth potential as there is currently a shortage of people going into the profession and the population's growing older. I would focus on the sciences in your studies, since they're the backbone of the medical profession.

Additional Thoughts: The thing that has surprised me the most about my profession is the evolution of job diversity in the field over the past 20 years. It used to be that most nurses worked in in-patient settings. Now more nurses are working outside direct hospitals in out-patient facilities, schools, factories, jails, and even in homes. If I had the opportunity to change the way I became a nurse practitioner I would go to a four-year college nursing program instead of the three-year diploma nursing school. In order to obtain an advanced nursing degree (which is what you need to become an NP) you need a college degree.

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