What Does a Hematology Nurse Do?
Hematology nurses are specially trained to provide nursing care for patients with blood diseases or disorders. Some of the more commonly-known blood diseases and disorders a hematology nurse may encounter include: leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and hemophilia. Hematology nurses initiate a plan of care to manage symptoms that result from such blood problems. Hematology nursing is often closely associated with oncology nursing, and some nurses will help patients with pain management if their cancer is particularly aggressive. Hematology nurses may work with adults only or specialize in working only with children. Their responsibilities include: taking medical histories, performing examinations, starting IVs and working with physicians to diagnose various blood diseases and disorders. Hematology nurses also educate patients and their families on how to live with and manage their blood disease. They may also assist with blood transfusions, blood tests, research and chemotherapy. Advanced practice hematology nurses have some prescriptive authority and can also order diagnostic lab work done.
How Can I Become a Hematology Nurse?
The first step toward becoming a hematology nurse is to complete an approved nursing education program. The most common way of doing this is to earn a degree in nursing. Most people earn either an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university. Less common is earning a nursing diploma, a program typically offered through hospitals. During this time, it is wise to take courses that focus on oncology nursing and/or hematology nursing, if possible. After completing a program, all future nurses go on to take an exam called the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) so they can become licensed to practice nursing in their state. After gaining experience as a staff nurse and later accumulating clinical experience working in oncology/hematology, a nurse can proceed to become credentialed. Two important certifications you can earn by taking an examination are: Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON) and Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN).
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Hematology Nurse?
The career outlook for nurses overall is excellent, and those who specialize in a particular area of health care, such as oncology/hematology, are even more in demand. Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary for a hematology nurse is $54,000, according to SimplyHired.com, a site that calculates average salaries based on what is listed in the job postings it receives. Because hematology nursing is so closely associated with oncology nursing, it is difficult to nail down salary information for hematology nursing alone. In fact, few nursing job titles are strictly defined as hematology nurses, but plenty are defined as oncology-hematology nurses. Therefore, the best way of learning average salaries for hematology nurses is to examine salary information for oncology nurses. The average annual salary for an oncology nurse is $57,000, according to SimplyHired.com.