I Am an Oncology Nurse

I Am an Oncology Nurse

Throughout my nursing career, my roles have changed like the seasons.

I spent my first few years building a solid foundation of skills in post-surgical, vascular, trauma and wound care; and eventually felt ready to take on a new role in nursing. I had heard great things about oncology nursing and remember thinking, “How could one area of nursing be so different?” After working at Green Bay Oncology for 6 months, I knew. It was different. It was…special. To work with such compassionate individuals is the most inspiring work I have done so far.

Oncology nursing combines nursing skills, knowledge, care and compassion to make the patient and family experience as positive as possible before, during and after the cancer journey. It requires the unique ability to build strong relationships and act as a liaison between the patient, family and caregivers. It is hard work, but I am often humbled by the kindness and grateful nature of our oncology patients and their families. Oncology is truly a great field to work in.

Don’t get me wrong, nursing can be and often is a demanding job. The nurse encounters demands both physically and emotionally. Oncology nursing doesn’t escape these demands. In many ways, it can be more emotionally taxing then other fields. It can also be more emotionally rewarding.

I have yet to have a day where I felt it was too much to handle, mainly because of the supportive relationships between coworkers and the patients who give so much back to each of us, whether intentionally or not. The kind words of appreciation and recognition along with the many treats and gifts from our amazing patients and their families are powerful and valued. The strong bonds between coworkers is fostered by GBO’s commitment to their employees and helps us live out our clinics values every day.

The oncology nurse can serve the patient population in several different ways. We provide direct patient care, and also have opportunities to work as practitioners, educators, administrators, researchers, patient navigators and more. As oncology nurses, we have a large support system nationally, within the Oncology Nurse Society (ONS), and locally, with the Northeastern Wisconsin Oncology Nurse Society (NEWONS). Here, within these support systems, oncology nurses from different clinics and hospitals can connect, continue education and share experiences. ONS has helped provide standards and certifications for oncology nurses and also provides funding to oncology nurses who want to further their education. ONS doesn’t only help the nurse, but the patient as well; patient advocates fight for funding and patients’ rights on Capitol Hill and are lobbying for the patients’ best interest daily.

Oncology nursing is not just a job; it truly is a calling. It is also the most rewarding thing I have done in my career so far.

I am no longer a nurse. I am an oncology nurse, and am very proud to say that.

Katie Olmsted Photo