$36.86 to $48.37 per hour
Oncology nurses are registered nurses who specialize in providing care for cancer patients and their families across the disease trajectory which includes prevention, screening, diagnostics, staging, treatment, follow-up, survivorship care and palliation. The roles and responsibilities that oncology nurses have vary depending on which point on this trajectory their role focuses. For example an oncology nurse who works with patients and families during the screening phase would be responsible for examining a patient’s risk for cancer because of genetics, lifestyle, and/or environmental exposures and counseling them appropriately. Conversely oncology nurse who have roles that focus on the treatment of cancer are responsible for safely delivering therapeutic treatments, managing the side effects, complications and completing relevant assessments. Regardless of which area of focus a role has, oncology nurses require extensive knowledge of cancer, associated treatments and symptom management.
Oncology nurses also play an important role in educating the patient and their family about their diagnosis, treatment plans and self management strategies. Oncology nurses work as part of an interdisciplinary team, and actively collaborate with team members to support patients and their families to achieve the optimum quality of life across all aspects of their experience, including the psychosocial, spiritual and physical domains. Oncology nurses are actively involved in identifying, assessing and managing distressing symptoms, and supporting the development of effective coping strategies to enhance the families’ capacity to deal with struggles that are associated with having cancer.
Oncology nurses at Alberta Health Services work primarily in hospitals, ambulatory cancer centres and community cancer clinics. They work closely with patients and their families on a daily basis. They actively collaborate with other nursing team members, physicians, health care aides, social workers, therapists, technologists, administrative staff and managers in their work.
Oncology nurses may work full-time, part-time hours or on a casual basis depending on department and facility needs. Shift schedules are predominantly day shifts unless working on an inpatient unit which usually involves shift work. Many oncology nurses work in environments that are physically and emotionally demanding. During the course of their work oncology nurses may be exposed to emergency situations, bodily fluids, infectious diseases, chemicals and other safety hazards.
A specialized oncology nursing certification is available through the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA). To acquire this certification, the nurse must have a minimum of two years experience in an oncology work setting, and then successfully pass the CNA’s Oncology Nursing Certification Exam. All oncology nurses are encouraged to work towards achieving their oncology specialization. AHS has partnered with the de Souza Institute to establish the Oncology Practice Readiness Education Program (O-PREP) to help standardize the orientation of new employees and create a province-wide learning environment that is current, easily accessible and portable.