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How can I educate myself on oncology nursing and sharpen my overall nursing skills for a new job?

Friday September 6, 2013
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Question:

Dear Donna,

I have been a nurse for 27 years with the majority of experience in the ICU. I left that position to raise my four children. I just interviewed for a job in an oncology unit and don't have true experience as an oncology nurse. Where would you suggest I start to educate myself not only on oncology but to sharpen my overall nursing skills?

Wants to Sharpen Nursing Skills

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wants to Sharpen Nursing Skills,

There is a plethora of online CE courses available to you on this site at http://ce.nurse.com/.There's even a special section for oncology course: http://ce.nurse.com/Oncology. You are welcome to read/listen to any course for free. You only have to pay if you want/need the CE certificates.

You also should visit the Oncology Nurses Society www.ons.org website about educational programs and offerings in your area. In fact if you start working in this specialty, you should join and get active in ONS. But you also can attend meetings and events as a guest for now. When there's something you're interested in doing, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing that discipline.

Likewise, you can and should attend and join local meetings of your state chapter of the American Nurses Association www.ana.org/. You can even attend as a guest for now. This is a great way to stay connected to the larger nursing community and keep abreast of broader issues and trends.

You don't mention what you educational background is, but you should make plans to go back for a BSN and/or an MSN if you don't already have those degrees.That's another great way to enhance your professional practice and breathe new life into it. Read “Go back to school and change your life,” www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Back-to-School.

I presume from your note you are currently unemployed, but you do not mention for how long. A refresher course might be in order if it has been awhile.

You also should look for nursing volunteer positions while you seek paid employment. Check with your local public health department, cancer care center, free clinic, hospice, etc.This is a good way to hone old skills and learn new ones. Volunteering often turns into paid employment, and it's a way to get your foot in the door somewhere.

Best wishes,
Donna