The meaning of being an oncology nurse: Investing to make a difference

Lindsey Ann Davis, Frances Fothergill-Bourbonnais, Christine McPherson


The landscape of cancer care is evolving. Oncology nursing continues to develop and respond to the changing needs of patients with cancer and their families. There is limited understanding of what it means to be an oncology nurse, as well as the factors that facilitate or hinder being an oncology nurse. This study used an interpretive phenomenological approach. Six nurses from two in-patient units in a tertiary care teaching facility were interviewed. The overarching theme, Investing to Make a Difference, reflected how oncology nurses invested in building relationships with patients and their family members and invested in themselves by developing their knowledge and skills and, eventually, their identities as oncology nurses. In turn, these investments enhanced their role, and were seen to make a difference in the lives of patients and their family members by supporting them through the cancer journey. Implications of these findings for oncology nursing are highlighted as they relate to nursing practice, education, research, and leadership.

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