The oncology nurse: life on an emotional roller coaster

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Stress-producing factors in oncology nursing are described with special attention to the differences between the stresses inherent in the patient-oncology nurse relationship and the patient-oncologist (physician) relationship. Danger signals which signify emotional decompensation in oncology work are discussed. Personal characteristics are described which have proven valuable criteria in selecting nurses who will be capable of adapting to the oncology setting. A formal support mechanism which can be provided by the oncology unit and development of an informal peer support network are discussed. A professional maturing process which evolves from development of a philosophy compatible with oncology nursing is described.

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