Monday, May 4, 2009

What it takes to be an Oncology Nurse Paper

What it takes to do be an Oncology Nurse..

"You’re pushing it" is a common quote that we often hear from our parents, grandparents, partner, and so on. We all have our limits. That at times gets pushed out of its boundaries. Think about a time you were pushed to the limit, how far is too far? How much can you take? How good is your patience? So far this semester I have stuck to writing about the good things I observed the nice patients and so on. Unfortunately not all of them were that nice. It takes a lot of patience, and consideration to be an Oncology Nurse. They have a physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging job, yet they find it rewarding. It took me a few times of observation and an interview to really get how hard of a job it really is and why they choose to do it even though.
"They need you in room 210", "Have that paperwork done before you leave", "Your 3:00 appointment has been cancelled", "There is patient on the phone who needs to talk to you" I discovered on my first visit that nursing is crazy, there is a lot of rushing, walking fast, and there is a lot to remember. I had a hard time keeping up with Cathy. People were telling her things she needed to do everywhere we went, there was so many, I couldn’t even remember most of it. Any nursing job, whether it is in the emergency room, doctors office, nursing home, or oncology department has a lot of walking, and rushing for the most part. In most cases, even Oncology Nursing requires lifting. You have to be able to lift your patients to weigh them if your office does not have a scale for wheel chairs. Nurses work long hours. Most work eight hour shifts, even people who are not nurses, but imagine walking back and forth, rushing, getting patients in and out quickly, that just sounds tiring. Some Oncology Nurses are on call, so if even if it’s two in the morning and you get that call you have to get up be ready and go. Being tired already and then having a lot to do make things so much worse I’m sure we all would agree. The stress that comes along with the job can also physically wear the nursing staff down. While doing all of this walking, rushing, lifting, being tired from the long hours, they still have energy enough to smile the whole time. Even though they are rushing and doing eight things at once they still never act like they don’t have time for a patient’s question, or story. After I followed Cathy around for the first time, we went back to her office and she explained what I had observed more in detail. Then she pointed to a couple stacks of papers, and folders, "paperwork is a big part of my job as well" (Cathy). Once she is done giving patients their treatments for the day, she then has to do all of their paperwork. "Bound by paperwork, short on hands, sleep, and energy… nurses are rarely short on caring" (Sharon Hudacek). I thought this quote fit what I had observed well. After these nurses are done doing so much for so many patients all day, they just like everyone else have to come home and do dishes, laundry, and take care of kids. Oncology Nursing puts a lot on their physical well-being.
Nurses are the ones that give the patients their treatments, medicines, check on them, take their vitals, and so much more. Oncology Nurses have developing close relationships with their patients. "Constant attention by a good nurse may be just as important as a major operation by a surgeon" (Dag Hammarskjold). I used this quote to help me prove that nurses are just as important as the doctor himself. This was proven to me with my first visit with Cathy, as I observed her and a patient talking like they were close friends, in which they had not known each other previous to the treatments. Candie, an Oncology Nurse I interviewed at St. Johns Hospital said, she tends to think that Oncology Nurses are closer with patients than that actual doctor because they spend a lot of time with their patients, some of the patients come in several times a week to everyday to receive treatments, and the nurse stays in the room the entire time the treatment is given, in case of reactions. The knowledge of the relationship basis I received led me to think of the emotional effects it has on the nurses. The nurses see so many things. Children, Teenagers, Parents, Grandparents all with this horrible illness. Oncology Nurses are the ones that explain everything about your treatment and how it will or can affect you. I didn’t get to see a new patient start, but I was told it is a very emotional thing for the patient usually, and that the nurse explains what they are going to do, and what could happen if the treatment gives them side effects. They give advice, and talk with the ill patient and their family members. They help the patient and the patients family cope. Seeing someone who has cancer is sad. Seeing a person you have gotten to know and their family go through so much is very emotional. Sadly some patients don’t get the treatment to get better, they know the illness will eventually take over; they just get treatments to slow it down. Cathy explained that some cancers, like ones on the brain stem are fatal for the most part and the chemotherapy treatments only prolong the patient’s death. It is emotionally difficult, but you go through training to help you and the family cope with this is what my interviewee Cathy said when I asked about the emotional aspects of the job. There are many side effects to the treatments. Hair loss, appetite loss, and so on that the nurse tries to help the patients with. During my time spent in the Oncology Departments I did notice that a lot of the patients had no hair, which was a reaction to the chemotherapy. Seeing patient’s day to day get progressively worse is hard on the nurse. Finding out that a patient whom you've seen for a period of time has passed away is sad for anyone, but Oncology Nurses have spent a lot of time with these patients, they have developed relationships with them. It is a very emotional thing, death.
"Patience is a virtue. It takes patience to wait for a seed to sprout or a tomato to ripen. It takes more patience to ask a 5-year-old to tie her shoes than to tie them for her. If someone asks you to please be patient, it probably means to wait. Patience is key toward reaching your goals." Patience is something a lot of people lack, all you have to do is observe others while they drive, or in the wal-mart line. Nursing requires a lot of patience I found during my visit to St. Johns. Nurses are challenged mentally everyday by co-workers, patients, and doctors. Some patients are very hasty with the nurses. They don’t talk, or gripe at the nurse about well anything. The even give dirty looks. "Well, you didn’t have to stab me with that thing, I’m not damn pincushion" is one of the responses from a patient to another nurse that was in the room, starting the patients treatment, it was rather unpleasant even for myself. The nurse had not "stabbed" her; she was just doing her job. I would have been sort of mad that I was being accused of that, and given dirty looks, but the nurse just said I’m sorry and smiled. The patients can test you in so many ways I found just by saying things to the nurse, or when the nurse walks away. I was so amazed that the nurse took it so well I asked the nurse I was following how she could just be so nice to her, when the lady was so rude to her the whole time. She explained that it does take a lot of patience, and that you have to look at things from their point of view, they are in there because they are seriously ill, and they may be dying, and then they just may be having a bad day. Not only do the patients test the nurses, but the doctors, and other nurses are always asking questions, and giving orders. There can be some tension with co-workers just like any other place. There are a lot of mentally challenging parts to being an Oncology Nurse, mostly dealing with patience.
After observing these nurses this semester I’m not sure if I have what it takes to be an Oncology Nurse. They go through a lot! There are people you get to see make it through their struggle, but then there are the ones who don’t. Oncology Nurses are truly strong and remarkable people to go through so much physically, emotionally, and mentally, to help others fight their illness and come out on top.

Works Cited Page
Candie. "St. Johns Oncology Dept." Personal interview. 2009.
Cathy. "Oncology/Radiology." Personal interview. 2009
"Nurse Quotes, Sayings about Nurses, Nursing, Nurses Day." The Quote Garden - Quotes, Sayings, Quotations, Verses. Ed. Quote garden. 26 Apr. 2009 .
Barker, Lesley. "What Is Patience?" EHow How To Do Just About Everything! Ed. E how. 26 Apr. 2009 .

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