Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have continued their education, earning a Masters degree and national certification. They are also state licensed to practice in an advanced role. Oncology nurse practitioners have concentrated their advanced training specifically on cancer care. They may be involved in your care by performing physical exams, seeing you at a follow up visit, or treating disease or treatment-related problems. Oncology nurse practitioners are experts in the areas of symptom management, patient education and counseling, and referral to hospital and community services.
An oncology nurse practitioner may:
- Prescribe medication and order diagnostic tests
- Perform certain diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
- Make referrals to other specialists
- Coordinate hospital admission
- Arrange for home care or hospice services
- Discuss research studies that might be available to you
- Provide counseling on health maintenance and symptom management
Each disease specialty has a dedicated nurse coordinator. These specially trained nurses work along with the physicians, helping to coordinate and manage each patient's care. They work with patients and their families to explain the plan of treatment, assist in communication between the medical team and the patient, help with symptom management, and teach patients about their disease process and treatment.
As an academic cancer center, UMGCCC is actively involved in research to develop new treatment options for cancer patients. Many of our patients participate in clinical trials, which are research studies focusing on new treatments not yet commercially available. Research nurses are professionals with expertise in coordinating research studies. They help patients determine if they are eligible to enroll in a clinical trial, ensure compliance with the study guidelines, monitor progress of the study participants, and answer patients' questions about treatment protocols.