Life As A Med/Surg Oncology Nurse

GeorgieGeorgina Lydia Villarreal, MSN, RN
Specialty: Med/Surg/Oncology

Foreword from Tae: Georgie and I met online and then realized we went to the same nursing school! How crazy is that?! So Georgie is my alumni sister and such a sweetheart!

Georgie, what are the 6 most interesting things about your specialty?
  1. We get it all. A Medical/Surgical/Oncology nurse operates on a unit with a wide variety of medical issues, including those patients recovering from surgery. Oncology means that we are also specialized in caring for cancer patients and those receiving chemo and radiation. Our patients are considered acutely ill; however, from my experience they can still be seriously ill and it is our job to monitor changes and even recommendations when patients need to be transferred to a higher acuity unit.
  2. My unit is not “so stable.” I have seen patients code, bleed out, die and pass out right in front of me. This is not to scare you, but to inform you that my specialty can carry patients who are minutes away from discharge, under hospice care or need to be transferred to a critical unit.
  3. There are no cardiac monitors on my unit. I wish there was, but if a patient needs to be monitored on a cardiac monitor they will be transferred to the telemetry unit. This is not unit specific, but more hospital specific.
  4. Your homeless patients may become your residents. When you have patients with no insurance who need cancer treatment it can be hard to find placement. I have personally seen this population stay on the unit for months at a time.
  5. Cancer patients may bring out the best in you. Nobody can hit you with reality like a person your age or who resembles someone you love and they’re battling cancer. This especially humbles me when I meet patients who remain mentally resilient, positive and strong even though their physical body is suffering in pain. It puts things into perspective.
  6. This specialty is for everyone. I have co-workers who have been on this unit for three decades and others who are first year like me who plan on moving to different units in time. From my experience it is one of the best units to gain experience of all disease processes and illnesses. On this unit you may even be caring for up to 6 patients at a time, so time management and organizational skills will also be learned, making you a great candidate for any specialty afterward.
What is the number 1 thing you wish you had been told as a nursing student?

The number one thing I wish I had been told as a nursing student is to fail forward. It can be so competitive in nursing school when instead it should be about collaboration and celebrating each other’s success. Looking back at my own failures, for example not passing my last nursing course and having to retake it or not passing the NCLEX and retaking that, I realized that it made me capable of overcoming barriers. No matter what, I tell every nursing student that there is an end and it will be sweet. You must keep moving forward.

Lastly, if you had 8 minutes to speak to the entire world on one issue in healthcare, what would you speak about?

I would talk about ways we can reduce health care related debt due to lack of health care education and access to affordable health insurance.


Check out Georgie on Instagram, @nurse.georgie @newgoals_apparel, and on her websites and!

Catch me rocking Georgie’s apparel line and check out my most popular blog post from last month right here!


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