How do I Become a Pediatric Oncology Nurse? (with pictures)

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill
Hands-on training to become a pediatric oncology nurse can be obtained by attending nursing school.
Hands-on training to become a pediatric oncology nurse can be obtained by attending nursing school.

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.

An aspiring pediatric oncology nurse must take classes in math.
An aspiring pediatric oncology nurse must take classes in math.

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.

Pediatric oncology nurses may provide patients and their parents information about progress or possible treatments.
Pediatric oncology nurses may provide patients and their parents information about progress or possible treatments.

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.

Due to the high mortality rate associated with some types of cancers, pediatric oncology is considered to be one of the most challenging medical specialties.
Due to the high mortality rate associated with some types of cancers, pediatric oncology is considered to be one of the most challenging medical specialties.

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.

An oncology nurse who graduated from a four-year program typically earns more money and has more prestige than those who attended two-year programs.
An oncology nurse who graduated from a four-year program typically earns more money and has more prestige than those who attended two-year programs.

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.

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Discussion Comments

Wisedly33

My cousin is a pediatric oncology nurse. He says you have to hold on to the victories to stay sane.

As a man, he's actually very, very much in demand in that field. Teen boys who are oncology patients appreciate having another "guy" to talk to, and will often be more forthcoming with them about any issues they're having than with a female nurse. They may feel embarrassed talking about some issues, but are more open with a male nurse.

He said the worst cases are the ones where everyone on the staff knows there's not much hope, but they are determined to be positive and give that patient the best care possible.

Scrbblchick

This has got to be one of the hardest nursing disciplines since a person would have to come to terms with the fact that many of their patients will die very young. Of course, there are successes every day, and I guess that's what keeps these nurses going.

I have a feeling the burnout rate is probably pretty high in this field. I don't think I could do it. If I were a nurse, I'd want to be on the obstetrics floor, helping deliver babies. Of course, sad things happen there too, but not nearly as frequently. It's one of the happier places in a hospital, and there aren't many of those.

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    • Hands-on training to become a pediatric oncology nurse can be obtained by attending nursing school.
      Hands-on training to become a pediatric oncology nurse can be obtained by attending nursing school.
    • An aspiring pediatric oncology nurse must take classes in math.
      An aspiring pediatric oncology nurse must take classes in math.
    • Pediatric oncology nurses may provide patients and their parents information about progress or possible treatments.
      Pediatric oncology nurses may provide patients and their parents information about progress or possible treatments.
    • Due to the high mortality rate associated with some types of cancers, pediatric oncology is considered to be one of the most challenging medical specialties.
      Due to the high mortality rate associated with some types of cancers, pediatric oncology is considered to be one of the most challenging medical specialties.
    • An oncology nurse who graduated from a four-year program typically earns more money and has more prestige than those who attended two-year programs.
      An oncology nurse who graduated from a four-year program typically earns more money and has more prestige than those who attended two-year programs.
    • A pediatric oncology nurse will be trained to explain, utilize and manage implanted ports that offer quick and easy intravenous access.
      A pediatric oncology nurse will be trained to explain, utilize and manage implanted ports that offer quick and easy intravenous access.