What does an oncology nurse do?

Would you make a good oncology nurse? Take our career test and find your match with over 800 careers.

Take the free career test Learn more about the career test

What is an Oncology Nurse?

An oncology nurse is a specialized nurse who provides care for patients with cancer. These nurses are highly trained and knowledgeable about the various types of cancer, their treatments, and the impact of cancer on patients and their families. They work closely with other healthcare professionals, including physicians, surgeons, and radiation therapists, to provide comprehensive care to cancer patients.

Oncology nurses provide a range of services, including administering chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, monitoring patients' vital signs, managing symptoms, and providing emotional support to patients and their families. They are also responsible for educating patients about their condition and treatment options, helping patients manage side effects, and monitoring patients for complications. Oncology nurses play a critical role in the care of cancer patients, and their compassion, expertise, and dedication are essential for ensuring that patients receive the best possible care.

What does an Oncology Nurse do?

An oncology nurse sitting with a patient.

Oncology nurses play a crucial role in the care of patients with cancer. They provide holistic and compassionate care to patients and their families throughout the cancer journey. The expertise and dedication of oncology nurses is essential in improving the quality of life for patients with cancer and their families, and in achieving better outcomes in cancer care.

Duties and Responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of oncology nurses can vary depending on their specific role and the setting in which they work. However, some common duties and responsibilities of oncology nurses include:

  • Administering chemotherapy and other cancer treatments: Oncology nurses are responsible for preparing and administering chemotherapy and other cancer treatments according to established protocols and guidelines. This involves verifying medication orders, calculating dosages, and ensuring that the treatment is administered safely and effectively.
  • Monitoring patients for side effects: Oncology nurses carefully monitor patients for side effects of cancer treatment, such as fever, infections, anemia, and organ toxicity. They also monitor patients' vital signs and laboratory values to detect any changes or complications.
  • Managing symptoms: Oncology nurses are experts in managing cancer-related symptoms such as pain, nausea, and fatigue. They work closely with patients to develop individualized symptom management plans that may include medications, complementary therapies, and lifestyle changes.
  • Providing education and support: Oncology nurses provide education and emotional support to patients and their families, helping them to understand their diagnosis and treatment options, and offering guidance and resources for coping with the physical and emotional aspects of cancer.
  • Collaborating with healthcare team members: Oncology nurses work closely with physicians, pharmacists, social workers, and other healthcare team members to provide comprehensive cancer care. They participate in interdisciplinary team meetings and collaborate on patient care plans, including symptom management, psychosocial support, and end-of-life care.
  • Advocating for patients: Oncology nurses are strong advocates for their patients, ensuring that they receive the best possible care and treatment. They communicate with healthcare team members and insurance providers to advocate for appropriate care and access to resources, and they help patients navigate the healthcare system.
  • Conducting research: Some oncology nurses are involved in research studies and clinical trials to improve cancer treatment and care. They may collect and analyze data, manage study protocols, and participate in the development and evaluation of new treatments.

Types of Oncology Nurses
There are several types of oncology nurses, each with a unique role in the care of cancer patients. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Oncology Staff Nurses: These nurses provide direct patient care, administering chemotherapy, monitoring vital signs, and managing side effects of treatment.
  • Oncology Nurse Navigators: These nurses work closely with patients and their families to provide support and guidance throughout the cancer care process. They help patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options, coordinate care with other healthcare providers, and offer emotional support.
  • Oncology Advanced Practice Nurses: These nurses have advanced degrees in nursing and provide specialized care to cancer patients. They can diagnose and treat cancer, prescribe medication, and provide supportive care.
  • Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialists: These nurses are experts in a specific area of cancer care, such as radiation therapy or pain management. They provide education to other healthcare providers and develop treatment plans for patients.
  • Oncology Nurse Educators: These nurses teach patients and their families about cancer, treatment options, and how to manage side effects.
  • Oncology Research Nurses: These nurses work with clinical trial patients, collecting data and monitoring patients for adverse effects. They also provide education to patients about clinical trials and help them navigate the process.

Oncology nurses have distinct personalities. Think you might match up? Take the free career test to find out if oncology nurse is one of your top career matches. Take the free test now Learn more about the career test

What is the workplace of an Oncology Nurse like?

The workplace of an oncology nurse can vary depending on their specific role and place of employment. However, there are some commonalities across settings. Oncology nurses can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, cancer centers, outpatient clinics, and hospice care facilities.

In hospital settings, oncology nurses work on oncology units or in infusion centers, where patients receive chemotherapy or other treatments. They may also work in the operating room, assisting with surgeries related to cancer treatment. Hospital-based oncology nurses often work long shifts and may have to respond to emergencies, such as patients experiencing severe side effects.

In outpatient settings, such as cancer centers or clinics, oncology nurses provide ongoing care to patients with cancer. They may administer chemotherapy or other treatments, monitor patients for side effects, and provide education and support to patients and their families. Outpatient oncology nurses often have regular hours and may work closely with other healthcare providers, such as oncologists and social workers, to provide comprehensive care.

Hospice care facilities are another workplace option for oncology nurses. In this setting, nurses provide end-of-life care to patients with terminal cancer. They may administer pain medication, manage symptoms, and provide emotional support to patients and their families during this difficult time.

Frequently Asked Questions



Continue reading

Oncology Nurses are also known as:
Oncology Registered Nurse