How to Become an Oncology Nurse

Oncology Nurses usually care for and supervise patients who are going through cancer treatments. This is a tough job to do so they have to have certain qualities and qualifications to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

Should I Become an Oncology Nurse?

Becoming an Oncology Nurse entails getting a great deal of specialized training. They treat chronically or terminally ill cancer patients. They monitor the physical condition of their patients, administer their medications as well as help them make strategies to manage pain and other symptoms.

Education Required Bachelor’s degree at least
Major Requirement Nursing
License/Certification An RN licensure is required; certification as an oncology nurse may also be needed
Experience/Training Experience of working as an RN in Oncology is required
Key Skills Patience, Stamina, Compassion, Critical-thinking, Communication, Problem-solving and Attention-to-detail etc.
Annual Mean Salary (2019) – National $77,460 (Registered Nurses)
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 12% (Registered Nurses)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019)

Career Outlook

In 2018, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 2,982,280 Registered Nurses (RNs) were employed all over the US. Job opportunities for this occupation is expected to increase by 12% in the US between 2018 and 2028. Not only that, BLS listed Business Support Services as the highest paying industry for this career with an annual mean salary of $92,200.

Steps to Become an Oncology Nurse

If your passion lies in serving people with cancer and you are devoted to working as an Oncology Nurse, then follow this guideline to fulfill your goal!

1. Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing The first thing you must do to become an Oncology Nurse is complete a 4-year bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN). You can also pursue a 2-year associate’s degree in nursing first and then follow that up by 2 more years in a bachelor’s of Nursing.

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam :All nurses are typically required to clear the NCLEX-RN exam which is conducted by the state nursing board and is mandatory for licensure.

3. Get Licensed as a Registered Nurse :It is mandatory for all kinds of nurses to be licensed in their respective states. However, the requirements of licensure vary from one state to another. To become licensed as a Registered Nurse, the nurses must clear the NCLEX-RN exam and submit the complete application packet to apply for a license in their state.

4. Get a Master’s Degree in Nursing with Oncology Specialization (optional) :To gain advantage in the job market and to obtain a better understanding of nursing in oncology department, many nurses choose to complete a master’s degree in nursing from an accredited institution with special focus on oncology.

5. Certification in Oncology and Field Experience :There are various certifications for Oncology Nurses that can be obtained to have better job opportunities. These certifications include;

1. The Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) :This certification remains valid for 4 years and must be renewed. It can be obtained by clearing an exam and to sit for this exam, nurses must have completed:

  • 1,000 hours of Oncology RN experience – 1 year as an RN & 10 contact hours in Oncology.

2. The ONS/ONCC Chemotherapy Biotherapy Certificate :This certification is for nurses who administer chemotherapy to cancer patients. They must obtain 1 year of field experience and administer chemotherapy at least once a month to get certified.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Oncology Nurse?

Becoming an Oncology Nurse may take approx. 5 to 7 years which includes graduating from a bachelor’s degree in Nursing, completing the requirement of work experience and getting licensure as a Registered Nurse.

What Are the Requirements of Becoming an Oncology Nurse?

To be able to work as an Oncology nurse, you must complete all of the following requirements:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from an accredited institution
  • Gain 1,000 to 4,000 hours of school nursing experience (internship or volunteer work)
  • Pass the state conducted NCLEX-RN exam
  • Apply for the state issued license as a registered nurse
  • Get hired as an oncology nurse

How Much Can I Make as an Oncology Nurse?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all Oncology Nurses must be licensed as Registered Nurses. Registered Nurses earned an annual mean salary of $77,460 in 2019. Moreover, California was named as the highest paying state for this career with an annual mean salary of $113,240 in 2019.

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