While many people assume that you need a Master’s in Nursing to be an oncology nurse or some form of advanced degree to work in the field, you generally only need a bachelor’s degree, some experience and your certification. Oncology nurses work with patients diagnosed with cancer and those who have certain risk factors that make them more susceptible to various types of cancer. Before you make this your specialty, make sure that you know more about the job.
What is an Oncology Nurse?
Oncology is a specific field of the medical world that focuses on cancer. Though some people think that the doctors and nurses working in this field only work with cancer patients, those professionals may also work with patients who have a high risk of developing cancer later. This can include those who are overweight, smokers or excessive drinkers or those with a family history of cancer. The nurses working in this field prepare management techniques for those patients. They create detailed outlines that patients can follow regarding when they go for treatment and when they meet with their doctors. Oncology nurses also provide counseling for patients during their treatment.
How Much do These Nurses Make?
According to Johnson & Johnson, the average salary for oncology nurses is between $44,000 and $57,000 a year. Large hospitals, community centers and other public medical centers usually make less than those working for private doctors’ offices make. The amount that you make might also depend on the amount of experience that you have in the field. You’ll make less when you first start out than you can make after you have a few years of experience under your belt.
Do You Need a Master’s in Nursing to be an Oncology Nurse?
Many specialized forms of nursing require that you have a high amount of both experience and education. Even if you work full time in your field, you also need to attend graduate school, complete a degree and do an internship. Oncology nurses typically do not need an advanced degree. You do need to obtain certification from a licensed agency in the United States. That agency asks that you meet certain requirements before applying for your certification.
Steps to Follow
Though you don’t need a Master’s in Nursing to be an oncology nurse, you do need to follow some set steps. After completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, you can apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination, which students often refer to as the NCLEX. Applicants must pass a background check and a criminal check and pay an exam fee before taking the test. Once you have your license, you can work as an RN in your state. You’ll need to gain at least 1,000 hours of experience in the oncology field before applying for certification from the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation. That certificate gives you the right to work with oncology patients and call yourself an oncology nurse.
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Oncology nurses work with cancer patients and those who might develop a form of cancer later. They make patients feel more comfortable and take care of their personal and medical needs. Though you don’t need a Master’s in Nursing to be an oncology nurse, you do need to obtain your oncology nursing certificate after earning your BSN and gaining 1,000 hours of oncology nursing experience.