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Role of a Specialist Nurse

Ovarian cancer is the most dangerous of the gynecologic cancers. Statistics from the American Cancer Society show that around 21,410 women will receive a new diagnosis for ovarian cancer and about 13,770 will die from it. Though the numbers are disheartening, it's worth noting that medicine has come a long way in treating ovarian cancer, leading to better survival rates. Healthcare professionals have also developed deeper knowledge of diseases like ovarian cancer, which can help them provide better assistance to women who are living with it. One such profession is specialist nursing.

What is a Specialist Nurse?

As the name implies, specialist nurses are dedicated to a specific area of nursing. And their knowledge in their chosen nursing field is crucial to their provision of care, as they're often the medical professional who has the most contact with patients. Given their specialization, they can diagnose related illnesses, educate patients on the nature of their condition, and prescribe treatment. However, becoming a specialist nurse requires considerable time and effort in the academe.

Not all registered nurses (RNs) are specialists. They first need to complete an RN to BSN program, or a bachelor of science nursing degree that's required to specialize in an area of their interest. These programs can even be completed online, which can help RNs fast-track their career and fill the growing gap of nurses with vast areas of expertise. Upon completing a BSN, they can then go on to specialize either with a master's in nursing or a BSN to DNP (doctor of nursing practice) degree. Other than the educational requirements, a nurse also needs to pass a licensing exam to become an oncology nurse, which is one of the main specializations within nursing. Then, they can start practicing as one and help the many women currently in need.

What is Their Role in Caring for Women with Ovarian Cancer?

Oncology nurses specialize in cancer treatment. They help patients navigate complex and tedious medical processes and assist in symptom management. Though a cancer patient's care team might change throughout the course of their treatment, the oncology nurse will remain to provide consistent guidance and support, and continue to coordinate cancer care. Plus, they often form closer bonds with patients and their families than their oncology doctors as they have more consistent contact. This relationship is vital to any cancer patient or survivor's support network. Of course, this applies to ovarian cancer patients. Oncology nurses must relay information regarding treatment and management to their patients, even if this is sometimes very difficult. They also need to ensure that the patient's treatment programs are tailor-fit to their needs and preferences. One study that covers inpatient care for gynecologic cancer patients recommends assessing their individual needs in order to optimize care plans and strategies. It notes that inpatients tend to need more supportive care to address both physical and psychological issues that can stem from pain, fatigue, and fear of cancer recurrence. As for outpatients, nurses can tap into their social circles to ensure that the patient has a support system upon discharge. Alternatively, they can arrange peer support groups that facilitate discussing information and emotional support. The need for emotional support just goes to show that care must be seen in both a physical and psychological sense. Ovarian cancer is a chronic condition, with recurring symptoms and episodes that might warrant readmission to the hospital. These events cause a huge amount of stress to patients, so their nurses should be prepared to provide emotional support as needed. Overall, oncology nurses need to provide both physical and emotional guidance to their patients. Their role in educating, caring for, and supporting ovarian cancer patients is crucial, and this is seen in how patients form such strong bonds with their nurse careers. And you, too, can play your part in supporting ovarian cancer patients. Teal Diva's dignity shirts are specially made so that medical professionals can easily access the patient's port without them having to take their shirt off. By donating to the cause, you help Teal Diva provide these shirts to more women with ovarian cancer. It fosters a sense of solidarity among patients and survivors alike because anyone with a dignity shirt is a sister — a Teal Diva.

Article written by: Jenifer Rutherford

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