Specialty Spotlight: Pediatric Oncology Nursing

NursingSeptember 01, 2022

Did you know that every day 42 children are diagnosed with some form of childhood cancer? In fact, pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children. That’s why in 2012, the US decided to start raising awareness of the effects on children, making September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

If working with children appeals to you, pediatric oncology nursing may be a field to consider. As emotionally challenging as taking care of cancer patients may sound, the career path can be inspiring and fulfilling. 

Because pediatric patients are so young, it takes a particular kind of person to do the work. Nurses working in pediatric oncology provide specialized care with cancer treatment. That could mean preparing a patient for their chemotherapy treatment, or it might mean administering palliative treatment. Typically, you’ll need to understand pediatric oncology and know how to handle chemotherapeutic drugs. You might also take courses in pediatric life support and may want to learn about child development. 

Pediatric nurses also need to be able to communicate well with children and their families, explaining complex procedures or treatments in ways families can understand. That includes not talking down to them. Nurses also collaborate with doctors and other nurses. Communicating well in a team and writing up detailed chart notes are important parts of the job. 

Pediatric oncology takes patience, flexibility, and sensitivity. If a patient takes a turn for the worse, their nurses need to respond quickly. Families of young cancer patients may be frightened about the diagnosis, and your understanding and empathy as you discuss a child’s condition can make a big difference. 

Pediatric oncology is certainly not an entry-level nursing position.  Pediatric oncology nurses need to complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing and have passed the licensing exam. If you’re hired by a hospital, that facility may provide chemotherapy training and other oncology skills. You may want to complete a certification in pediatric hematology oncology nursing. You can apply for the certification after you’ve completed the following: 

  • 2 years of RN experience within the last four years.
  • 2,000 or more hours of pediatric hematology oncology nursing in the last four years.
  • 10 contact hours of continuing education in oncology or academic elective in oncology nursing.

If you’d like to learn more about nursing as a career, Fortis Colleges and Institutes is among the largest nursing education providers in America. For more information on our nursing programs, click here or call us today at (855) 436-7847 to speak to one of our career counselors.