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Career Story: Nurse At An Oncology Treatment Center

Nurse At An Oncology Treatment Center

Job Title: Oncology Nurse

Type of Company: I work in an oncology/hematology office administering chemo/biotherapy to patients in an outpatient setting.

Education: BS, Nursing, Simmons College (Boston, MA) •• certificate, Chemo/Biotherapy, Oncology Nurse Society

Previous Experience: I worked in hospice care for 15 years, doing both in-patient and home care. I worked with oncology and HIV/AIDS patients.

Job Tasks: My day is spent administering chemotherapy to people with cancer, as well as caring for people with other diseases of the blood such as anemia.

I start my day reviewing the charts of the patients to be seen that day for any new or changed orders written by the physician. I then begin to prepare and mix the chemotherapy drugs in a safe, enclosed setting. While I do this, my co-worker begins to bring in the patients (our jobs are interchangeable, some days he mixes the drugs and I bring in the patients), check weights and vital signs and start their IV's. The patients get their chemotherapy for several hours during which I monitor them for side effects, reactions and tolerance to the chemotherapy. During the day I also care for patients with severe anemia requiring iron infusions or special injections to treat their anemia. I also triage phone calls from patients who, in some cases, are experiencing side effects from their treatment and have questions or concerns. I review with patients what they need to do after the treatment ends that day: when to go for lab tests or see the physician. I review the lab results of patients who are expected in the following day at the end of the day to make sure they are all right to get their treatment. then I clean up and put things away.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is being able to help people during a very difficult time in their lives. People with cancer need a lot of support. I enjoy mixing the chemotherapy and learning about new medications. I enjoy the work environment I am in a small, intimate office where the physicians trust us to work collaboratively with them to care for the patients.

The worst part of the job is when I do not have the opportunity to say good-bye to a patient. When I worked in hospice care, I was able to say good-bye.

Job Tips: Work in a hospital on an oncology/hematology floor for a year or so first to see if you like the specialty. Get experience caring for dying patients, starting IV's and working independently.

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