Hematology Nurse: Education and Career Information
If you have always been fascinated by individuals with diseases like sickle cell and leukemia, and have a compassion to help those patients and make a difference, you may have a successful career as a hematology nurse. A specialized career path, this registered nurse is always busy, and works especially hard in making patients more comfortable as they attempt to understand their disorders. This role has a number of research components, and works with other medical professionals to design effective plans of care.
What does a Hematology Nurse do?
A Hematology nurse is an important part of the medical environment. They care for patients who have blood disorders and diseases, working to help manage the symptoms and pain they encounter. Hematology nurses work closely with oncology, and may further specialize their area to deal with either children or just adults. They administer medication, start IV’s, work with medical professionals to diagnose certain blood diseases, work as a liaison between families and medical professionals and work to help educate patients on how to live with and manage their disorder. This is a highly specialized area, and education beyond the standard nursing program is needed.
Other duties include researching patient treatments, operating medical equipment, requesting lab work, recording medical histories, helping with blood transfusions, and prescribing medication in the event they are an advanced practice hematology nurse. You can find these nurses working in medical facilities, long-term care facilities, research centers and other agencies.
How much does a hematology nurse earn?
On average, a hematology nurse makes around $54,000 per year, which is a base salary. This number increases with education, experience and location. Additionally, the growth of registered nurses is expected to continue through 2024 at a rate of 16%. This position is closely related to an oncology nurse, which has an average salary of $57,000.
What types of skills are needed to become a hematology nurse?
There are skills that are specific to this role being successful. This is a highly sensitive position, as the hematology nurse is working with patients on both sides of the spectrum – patients who can still function with their disorder, and those patients who may be bedridden because of it. These skills are crucial to the role:
Empathy and compassion: Having a blood disorder can be very sensitive for both the patient and their families. The hematology nurse must have a high level of empathy and compassion for what the patient and their families are facing. A hematology nurse must be caring, sympathetic and understanding to assist the patient and administer an effective care plan.
Communication: The hematology nurse must have excellent communication skills, with the ability to speak clearly to other healthcare professionals, patients and their families. They must be able to impart knowledge on caring for certain disorders. There is a technical and medical aspect to this role, and the hematology nurse must be able to provide guidance and reassurance.
Critical-thinking skills: Because dealing with blood disorders and diseases is a serious matter, the hematology nurse must have strong critical thinking skills in order to make hard decisions when they see a patient going into crisis, or the patient is experiencing pain or other symptoms. They must be able to determine whether or not the current treatment plan is working, and disseminate that information to the physician.
Strong attention to detail: The hematology nurse must be able to notice the little things, while keeping track of patient medical histories, symptoms and treatment plans. The nurse must also monitor any medical equipment required in the care of the patient, administer and oversee their medication, and make sure they are receiving the recommended treatment.
Organization: The hematology nurse must be very organized, which works in conjunction with a strong attention to detail. This is critical to the proper care of all patients they care for.
Emotional stability: The hematology nurse must be able to endure patients who go through extreme bouts of pain and suffering. There are also a number of emergency situations that could occur. This is a very stressful position and the nurse must be able to keep their composure and maintain a high level of professionalism and still complete the tasks of their job.
Every program has certain clinical internship requirements that must be completed. In addition to the formal education requirements, clinical experience is needed. Education and training throughout the career is also required in the form of continuing education credits.
In order to become a hematology nurse, the student must first enter into an Associate of Science of Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Further education is also required, with a recommendation of obtaining a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. This will open the doors of opportunity, and the duties and responsibilities will increase, furthering salary and career levels.
Once the initial program is completed, the student must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to show proficiency in the knowledge and technical skills required to perform the job. Once the nurse obtains their license, they must pursue work in this area. This experience will lend a hand to obtaining the Oncology Nursing Certification, which can also lead to the Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse designation. After the nurse has decided to pursue the master’s degree, they will qualify to receive the advanced oncology certified nurse practitioner (AOCNP) designation.
Certifications must be renewed every couple of years to remain active. This is a very demanding and serious role, but is very rewarding for the right individual. It is easy to become close with patients and their families, especially if you are a very compassionate individual. Beyond wanting to make a significant difference, this is a role that is people-based. This position can also be very lucrative with educational advancement, and is a highly valued position in any medical setting.
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