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Career Guide to Pediatric Oncology Nursing

written by: Cherrineb•edited by: Diana Cooper•updated: 5/31/2009

Pediatric oncology nursing can be a rewarding career choice for registered nurses who enjoy learning about rapid scientific advances and have a love for children with cancer and their families. Learn more about this career.

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    Job Description

    A pediatric oncology nurse provides healthcare to children (infancy to adolescence) and performs numerous job functions on a typical day. Essential duties include preparing and administering chemotherapy under a physician's supervision, explaining treatment plans to the cancer patient's family, and assessing the physical and psychological needs of pediatric cancer patients.

    Additional duties involve collaborating with the pediatric patient's medical team. This team may include the primary doctor who provides medical referrals, the oncologist who provides specialized knowledge, a social worker who may provide local support resources, and a dietician who may provide nutritional assessments because children with cancer have special nutritional needs.

    Advanced pediatric oncology nurses may specialize in research and evaluate findings that affect pediatric patient care. Also, a pediatric nursing administrator is responsible for the training, hiring, and patient education for a medical practice or hospital department.

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    Job Requirements and Training

    The first requirement for becoming a pediatric oncology nurse is to become a registered nurse (RN). This is achieved by completing an accredited nursing program administered by a university (four-year Bachelor's of Science in nursing degrees), a hospital-based program (diploma), or a community college (two-year associate's degree in nursing).

    After completing the required nursing coursework as well as required internships/residency, a nurse must pass a specialized examination called the NCLEX-RN exam which measures core competencies. All U.S. states require that nurses be licensed before nursing duties may be performed. Also, the license must be renewed with continued education coursework at different intervals.

    Pediatic oncology nursing certification can be obtained to demonstrate a defined functional or clinical ability to work with young patients with cancer.

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    Pediatric Nurses Salaries and Practice Settings

    Pediatric oncology nurses can earn from $40,000.00 to $130,000.00 per year depending on the specific job description. For example, a recent college graduate with a nursing degree will start at a lower salary. As the person's knowledge base increases, while meeting employment requirements, the nurse can earn annual raises. Meanwhile, a senior oncology nurse with an advanced degree and title will earn the higher salaries.

    Typical practice settings where pediatric oncology nurses work include private practices, public health communities, and hospitals. Also, a non-typical environment can include the pharmaceutical industry.

    The job outlook is excellent and the job description of pediatric oncology nurses provide strong skills to transfer to advanced nursing positions.

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