3 myths about oncology nurses

In 1998, I became a labor and delivery nurse and loved it. I loved seeing the joy on new parents’ faces and holding the newborns. But after one of my colleagues left labor and delivery to work at MD Anderson, I decided to follow her lead. Though I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy working with cancer patients as much as I enjoyed working with new parents and babies, I soon took a job at MD Anderson’s Texas Medical Center Campus. Well, 18 years and two cross-country moves later, I am still an oncology nurse – now at MD Anderson in The Woodlands – and I can’t imagine working in any other field. Yet I still hear many of the same myths and misconceptions about oncology nurses that I had back before I came to MD Anderson. Here are a few of them. Myth: Your oncology nurse won’t be able to answer your questions. Truth: We get calls from patients who believe their doctor is the only person who can answer their questions. But we oncology nurses actually have specialty training in cancer diagnosis, treatment, triage, side effect and symptom management. We focus on building trusting relationships with our patients and their families, and can answer many of your questions quickly so you don’t have to schedule an appointment or wait for a call back from your doctor. Your nurse is a valuable resource who can provide reassurance and act as a lifeline to your doctor between clinic visits. Myth: Oncology nursing is depressing. Truth: Actually, oncology nursing is inspiring. My cancer patients are some of the most motivated people I’ve...