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My oncology rotation....

Where to start.  Initially I thought that maybe I wanted to go into oncology and so I was looking forward to my oncology rotation, well that was yesterday. 

First we went to medical oncology where we followed around the nurses who administered chemotherapy.  I met a really nice lady who had recently started treatment for her cancer, although she had been diagnosed more than a year ago.  That really made me wonder, why do doctors wait to treat?  She said it was b/c her cancer was slow growing & they wanted to just watch it.  Well, they watched it & by the time they realized something was up it had metastasized & spread.  What may I ask is the point of that?? Why not treat immediately in order to assure that it doesn't spread???  Very confusing.  I met another very sweet patient who had been receiving chemo for EIGHT years!  Honestly, I didn't even realize that people got chemo for that long.  That patient was very sweet & interesting & was very happy to have had the 9 years that the chemo has given her.  While it was interesting, I have to say that I don't see myself doing that job.  It was basically hanging/administering chemo meds all day long & then charting it on the computer & billing the patients.  Seemed very routine & like it would get old really fast. 

Second we went to radiation oncology.  At first they put us with the radiation techs who actually admistered the radiation.  Again, while that was interesting, it was basically them sitting in front of a computer & the radiation machine, putting the patients on the table, turning on the radiation, taking the patient off the table & repeat 60 x's a day.  When we finally got to follow the nurse it was even worse.  The radiation nurse's job was basically to input the patient info into the computer.  She didn't even do a physical assessment.  Seriously?  They need a RN for this?  I'm pretty sure that job could have been handled by a MA, or even an unlicensed person.  Again, not for me. 

Now while these jobs were not my cup of tea (thank God we only had one day with this "rotation") there was another reason that I don't think I could do that job.  When I was in the radiation oncology part the patient that we were interviewing had lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain & she was there for a work up for brain radiation and I couldn't help but put myself in her daughter's place & think back to my own mother.  At one point the memories were so overwhelming that I thought I was going to have to get up & leave room during the dr's assessment.  And while I was able to get it together & get through the day I woke up this morning in tears & have bascially been a basket case all day.  Of course I didn't realize how upsetting yesterday was to me until about 2:00 this afternoon.  At first I just thought it was stress from school (which is a part of it as well), but then I realized that yesterday was just a really painful experience & one I don't think I want to live over & over every day.  So, one more specialty down. 

I love my rotations b/c it really is giving me an opportunity to find my place, unfortunately I just haven't found it yet.  Of course I've only had 3 rotations so I still have a ways to go.  Man will I be happy when the next 3 weeks are over & I can move on from Medsurg to L & D.  Never thought I'd be saying that!


  1. When I was a CNA back in 2000 I worked as a PCT on the Onco/Medsurg Flood. It was SAD! Young mothers dying and leaving behind children and young husbands sobbing, quick dx and quick deaths from painful cancers, not to mention the side effects of the treatments. The nurse spent their time, chasing pain,nausea and hanging toxic medications.

    I became a patient on that floor and it nearly derailed my dreams of ever being a nurse. It is a tough tough job, and no way would I have wanted to do it. But I am really really thankful for the RNs that really took care of me while I was there!

    1. Yep, the nurse that I shadowed really loved her job & you could tell that she really had a heart for the people she was helping.

  2. Honestly, I don't think I could do Oncology either.
    It's such a sad field of medicine.
    I mean, it can be good when the patients beat it and all, but when they don't...
    And my rotation through oncology was in PEDS. Double ouch.
    I can only imagine how much it affected you.

    Yes, you will go through lots of different rotations and you still have time to find your place!!
    I have postpartum on Monday and Tuesday, and I cannot wait!!!

    Hope everything else is going good with your schooling!!

    1. Yeah when we do our PEDS rotation we could very well end up on that floor. I wish we got to do more L & D but we only get to go 4 times, once in actual L & D, once in the nursery, once in postpartum & once in a clinic. I never thought I'd like that specialty but from everything I've heard from my classmates & especially from my nursing bestie I'm thinking I'm actually going to like it. I know I'm excited for it!

  3. Oncology nurses administer a lot of chemo for sure, but they do a ton of education and support of those patients. I did oncology nursing via home care (all IV therapy) for 5 years and loved it. But it did get the best of me and eventually I had to move on. That's one of the good things about nursing..there are so many areas to focus on.

    1. Yep, one of our teachers said the same thing. She does L & D & she said every birth to her is an absolute miracle, but if it ever became routine that she would move on. That is one of the MAIN reasons I was drawn to nursing was the variety.

  4. I think all areas of nursing have good points and just need to find your niche. I love L&D but it is really hard at times too for not all births are good. Mom's and babies occasionally die. The caring for mom's part has not gotten old for me...the bureaucracy has. The best part about nursing is that when you burn out at one thing there are many other things to switch to :)
    Learn all you can and keep an open mind to what you are never know what might strike you as the perfect fit

    1. Yep, hopefully something will strike a chord with me throughout these rotations. I can't wait for that to happen. As a nurse I guess I always assumed that in L & D that sometimes the babies would die, but honestly I never really thought much of moms dying. Very sad...


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