Accepting an assignment as an oncology nurse can bring special challenges to a travel nurse. Nurses who care for cancer patients are often called upon to provide emotional support and encouragement in addition to regular nursing duties like monitoring physical conditions and administering medications.
If you’re next travel assignment is as an oncology nurse, here are some practical tips and information to help you provide the best care for your patients and take care of yourself:
Treating Cancer Patients
Oncology assignments can help you develop your practical and theoretical knowledge by giving you experience in treating all types of patients. Oncology travel nurses have the opportunity to work with cancer patients at all stages of the disease, and they often have the chance to specialize in specific types of cancer or certain patient groups.
Before accepting an oncology assignment, you should be aware of the requirements of the job—you may be working alongside nurses who have years of experience in treating cancer patients, and you will need to learn and adapt quickly. Typical duties you may experience include administering chemotherapy and other treatments, monitoring patient health, and educating patients about what to expect. You will be expected to be familiar with the implications of test results and medical conditions, and you may play a role in coordinating patient care.
Emotional Role of an Oncology Nurse
Both newly-diagnosed and ongoing cancer patients benefit greatly from the services that travel nurses provide. Cancer patients often feel anxious and overwhelmed. They may have trouble adjusting to their circumstances, and they may mourn the loss of their old life. Oncology nurses are typically patients’ first line of communication, so you should be prepared to offer an appropriate level of counseling and patient education.
- As an oncology nurse, you will likely have the opportunity to develop a close rapport with your patients. You can use your relationship to reinforce good habits and continue educating them about next steps.
- Some patients may not feel comfortable discussing certain situations with their loved ones—they will likely look to you to provide help and support through their treatment.
- You may need to discuss the possibility of death with your patients—having a nonjudgmental, comforting attitude while addressing end-of-life questions can help patients feel more at ease and connected.
- Patients may also need you to provide a listening ear—they may share life stories, discuss relationships, and ask your advice about personal as well as health-related matters. Providing support in this way can help patients manage the disease and their feelings and fears about it.
Dealing with Personal Stress
The demands on oncology travel nurses are intense, and they can be deeply personal. You will need to develop a way to deal with your own job-related pressures to avoid burn out and to continue providing a high level of care.
While you know your own personality best, here are a few helpful ways to manage stress:
- Find an outlet – whether it’s exercise, a hobby, or sleep, find a way to blow off steam that will allow you to unwind after a difficult shift.
- Explore the area – part of the fun of being a travel nurse is having the opportunity to get out and get familiar with different parts of the country. Explore your new area on your own terms.
- Make new friends – find people in whom you can confide, and don’t forget that you can also rely on your loved ones at home.
- Ask for what you need – if you find that you’re having trouble coping, ask your co-workers or your employers for help. You may be surprised at how willing they are to help you adapt.
If you are prepared for the opportunity, being an oncology travel nurse can be extremely rewarding. If you are currently an oncology nurse, share any tips or insights you may have in the comments.