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Oncol Nurs Forum. 1994 Sep;21(8 Suppl):35-40.

The atypical becomes typical: the work of oncology nurses.

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  • 1School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To describe a typical day for nurses who work with patients with cancer.

DESIGN:

Multi-institutional, descriptive, qualitative.

SETTING:

Six sites in different regions of the United States; rural and urban cancer and noncancer centers.

SAMPLE:

38 oncology nurses (mean age = 35 years; average time in nursing = 10 years; and in oncology = 7 years; 47% bachelor of science in nursing, 29% diploma, 13% associate degree in nursing, and 11% master's prepared.

METHODS:

Phenomenological; content analysis of interviews.

FINDINGS:

There is no typical day for oncology nurses. As such, the atypical becomes typical. This dialectic influenced how the nurses organized and managed their work. Management became a paradox or a juggling act--an attempt to control the uncontrollable, to manage the unmanageable. Time was a central metaphor used in the descriptions. The amount of time available influenced nurses' abilities to perform a certain quality and quantity of work. Demands on time, whether legitimate or illegitimate, were the context for the day-to-day work.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE:

It is necessary to recognize the value that nurses continually place on participation in patients' daily care, the unpredictability inherent in cancer and patient care, and the organizational routines that nurses use to accomplish their work.

PMID:
7984488
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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