To become a pediatric oncology nurse, the first step is to attend a two- or four-year school with a nursing program. There are associate and bachelor’s degree programs available in most areas. Once schooling is complete, most nurses are assigned or hired to a specific department and receive on the job training in a particular specialty. Some areas may require additional education in order to specialize, so it is important that you speak with an advisor to determine the requirements in your location.
Before entering the actual nursing program to become a pediatric oncology nurse, you must first attend a college and complete a certain number of general education credit hours. This will include classes in English, math, science, and preparation courses like medical terminology. Once this is complete you will be able to enter the actual nursing school.
Nursing school is where you will get your hands-on training in being a pediatric oncology nurse. Many programs have a long waiting list, so you may have to wait for classes to become available or complete the program at a slower pace than you intended. The nursing program can last anywhere from one to three years depending on which degree program you are going for. Nurses who have completed a four-year program tend to earn more money and have more opportunities available to them than those who have completed a two-year program.
After you have completed your nursing program, you have two potential options available to become a pediatric oncology nurse. The first requires that you become an employee at a children's hospital or cancer center which tends to children. This way you will receive on the job training in caring for oncology patients.
In other areas, it may be required to attend continued education courses in order to become a pediatric oncology nurse. The length of time these courses take will depend your location. Some of your training may occur as an intern or apprentice, or during the first year or so of working as a nurse in a hospital. To further advance in your career, you may choose to obtain a master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner, attend seminars to stay up to date on advances in pediatric care, and read literature pertaining to your field.
Some areas may have special requirements for becoming a pediatric oncology nurse, so you should be sure to speak with a student advisor before beginning your training. Discuss your long-term career goals and be sure you have a clear understanding of what is required in order to achieve them. This will also help your education go more smoothly, since you may be able to take relevant classes from the beginning to cut down on your schooling later.