How Do I Go into Chemotherapy Nursing?

C.B. Fox

A career in chemotherapy nursing requires many years of study as well as specialized training in oncology and the delivery of chemotherapy drugs. In many cases, nurses who specialize in chemotherapy will work in a variety of different capacities within the oncology department in a hospital or a cancer center. These nurses will need to have a variety of skills aside from those related to the delivery of chemotherapy in order to perform their jobs well. A chemotherapy nursing career also requires lifelong ongoing education as there are many new advancements in cancer treatment each year.

Chemotherapy nurses will specialize in the delivery of chemotherapy drugs.
Chemotherapy nurses will specialize in the delivery of chemotherapy drugs.

The first step a person needs to take in order to get into chemotherapy nursing is to complete a university education. In most countries, nurses must complete at least two year's worth of school in a nursing program, though many countries either prefer or require four years of nursing school. Nurses may be able to transfer into a nursing program from another type of undergraduate degree but the skills and classes taught to nurses are often specific to this field and must be completed and passed before a student can become a nurse.

Once a nurse has received either a two or four year degree in nursing, the next step in getting into chemotherapy nursing is to get a job at a medical facility. Nurses who have received high grades in school and who have some on the job experience are usually preferred. In some cases, a nurse may be able to start working in the oncology department right away, though in facilities that are more competitive, the nurse may need to start out in another department and work up to a career in chemotherapy nursing.

Depending on the requirements of the medical facility that the nurse works for, getting into chemotherapy nursing may require the completion of one or more specific classes that will grant the nurse a provider card. This card allows the nurse to provide treatment to chemotherapy patients because it confirms that the nurse has successfully completed a course in the delivery of chemotherapy care where the nurse learned the skills and information necessary to treat a cancer patient who is undergoing this type of therapy. Other chemotherapy nurses may have a specialized license as an Oncology Certified Nurse, or a nurse that specializes in cancer treatment. This certification requires that the nurse take a number of different classes and pass a licensing exam.

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