How Can I Specialize a Nursing Degree in Pediatric Oncology?

Pediatric OncologyAs you explore various paths in your nursing career, you may be wondering how to specialize a nursing degree in pediatric oncology. This could be an excellent path to pursue if you are passionate about serving the health needs of children. A cancer diagnosis is always stressful, but it can be particularly challenging for children and their families. Pediatric oncology nurses can bring compassion and care to help them through a trying time.

Steps to Becoming a Pediatric Oncology Nurse

Like many other nursing specialties, you will need to start your educational journey by becoming a registered nurse (RN). There are various ways you can accomplish this goal, either by completing a diploma or an associates or bachelors degree. Although a bachelors degree in nursing (BSN) is not required in order to become an RN, nurses are often encouraged to go on for the higher degree. If you do enroll in a degree program, and you already know of your interest in pediatric oncology, try to take courses that will help you prepare for that kind of work.

Regardless of what program you complete, once you’ve graduated you will need to take and pass the national certification exam (referred to as the NCLEX) to become an RN. Once you have done that, you can pursue work experience and internships in pediatric oncology. It’s possible you may be able to get a fellowship or be a part of some other program where you can spend time working directly with other nurses in this field.

Certification in Pediatric Oncology

Although certification is not required for you to work in this field, if you’re planning to stay in it long-term, it can be a good idea to pursue it. It not only shows that you take your work seriously, but it will provide you with lots of opportunities for professional development and ongoing learning. You can find out more about how to pursue certification through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC). There you will discover the prerequisites you’ll need in order to be able to take the certification test. In general, like with other nursing specialties, you will need a combination of a certain amount of hours of work related to your specific certification area and a set amount of hours in continuing education related to the field. The ONCC also provides information about how you can maintain and renew your certification once you’ve obtained it.

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As a pediatric oncology nurse, you will use skills of many different types to serve your patients. Practical skills in administering cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, will be part of your training. But you will also need to learn about child psyhcology and child development so that you can meet the unique needs of younger patients. It may go without saying, but you will also need to learn communication skills that will allow you to support children and their families as they go through a very difficult time. The job can be a challenging one, but it also has many rewards. If you feel this is a nursing area in which you could make a difference, you may want to specialize a nursing degree in pediatric oncology.