Certification In Oncology Nursing

The field of oncology nursing is a growing and exciting field with plenty of opportunities for advancement. Oncology nurses provide care to patients undergoing treatment for cancer, as well as their families. A certification in oncology nursing can help you stand out from other medical professionals and prove that you have the knowledge and skills needed to provide quality care to those in need.

Certification In Oncology Nursing

1 What Is Oncology Nursing?

Oncology nurses are trained to provide care for patients with cancer. They do this by managing the patient’s pain and helping them manage their stress. Oncology nurses also work closely with the family members of cancer patients, providing emotional support and acting as a liaison between them and the medical staff.

Oncology nurses can be found working in hospitals, clinics, outpatient facilities and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.

2 How Do You Become An Oncology Nurse?

You can become an oncology nurse in several ways. The first step is to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing, then you can continue your education with a master’s degree program. If you want to pursue a career as an oncology nurse practitioner, you need to become a registered nurse (RN) first, which requires graduating from either an associate degree program or a bachelor’s degree program. Earning RN certification will ensure that your knowledge base is up-to-date and credible for the position of oncology nurse practitioner. Once you have this basic foundation of knowledge and experience under your belt, there are still more steps to take: earn certification as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), or become certified by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA). In addition to these certifications, nurses who wish to specialize in oncology must complete additional education programs offered by hospitals and universities across the country.[1]

3 Why Become Certified in Oncology Nursing?

Becoming certified in oncology nursing is an investment in your career. Becoming certified indicates that you have knowledge and skills beyond the basic requirements for nursing practice, such as how to perform specific procedures or use particular equipment.

Being able to demonstrate this expertise is important for a variety of reasons:

  • It shows that you’re prepared for any situation and can adapt quickly to new challenges or changes in practice or procedure.
  • It demonstrates your expertise as an oncology nurse, which will make employers more likely to hire you and give them confidence that they’ve chosen the right person for their organization’s needs.
  • The certification process itself is often used as part of evaluation criteria when considering candidates for jobs within the clinical setting, so becoming certified may help ensure that you’re selected over another candidate who doesn’t have this qualification

4 How Does Certification Work for Oncology Nurses?

Certification is not mandatory in any state. It’s voluntary, which means that you have the option to become certified if you want to. In order to become certified, you must meet certain standards. These standards are determined by a group of expert nurses who have experience working with cancer patients and survivors. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) sets these standards for all nurses across the country when it comes to oncology nursing certification. If you want true expertise as an oncology nurse, obtaining ANCC certification is one way to do so.

Certification shows your employer that you’re committed to your career as an RN or LPN/LVN because it demonstrates your knowledge about oncology-specific treatments and procedures for people living with cancer—and that means patients will be treated more effectively overall!

5 How Long Does It Take to Get Certified in Oncology Nursing?

The amount of time it takes to become certified in oncology nursing depends on your level of experience and education. Eligibility requirements for CNOR certification include:

  • three years of full-time work experience as a registered nurse
  • current RN license and BLS certificate at the time of application
  • completion of an accredited course in oncology nursing (certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree) within the last five years

Once you meet these eligibility requirements, the process can take up to 4 months. To become certified as an Oncology Nurse Specialist (ONS), you must complete:

  • an application form and submit it with payment;
  • one copy each of your RN license or current BLS card and proof that you completed a course in Oncology Nursing within 5 years;
  • two letters from employers or colleagues confirming their knowledge of your professional qualifications; and
  • payment for certification exam fee ($280).

6 What Are the Requirements for the Oncology Nurse Credential?

The requirements for certification in oncology nursing are that you must:

  • Be a licensed registered nurse (RN).
  • Have a minimum of two years of experience in oncology nursing.
  • Have completed 2,000 hours of oncology nursing experience within the last 2 years.
  • Or have 1 year of oncology clinical practice with at least 12 months in-patient or ambulatory care settings that includes cancer diagnosis and treatment at time of application for certification, OR three years as an RN with a minimum of 12 months clinical practice in an acute care setting providing care to patients with cancer, AND two years as an RN providing direct patient care under the supervision of a physician.

7 Becoming an OCN® Certified Nurse

The Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN®) certification is the most recent credential offered by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC). It’s a voluntary certification that recognizes nurses who have demonstrated their expertise in oncology nursing through a combination of academic preparation and clinical practice. The OCN® program is based on the standards of professional practice established by ONCC, which was founded in 1954 as an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care quality through education and certification. When you become an OCN®, you’ll have evidence that you meet those standards, and employers will consider your certification when considering whether to hire you.

To become an OCN®, candidates must first meet certain educational requirements: they must complete at least 12 credit hours of continuing education courses relevant to oncology nursing within five years prior to application submission; these can be taken either in-person or online through accredited entities such as universities or professional organizations like NNAAP or ANA-ONC (American Nurses Association Oncology Nursing Certification Program). They also need 120 credit hours from a regionally accredited school where they earned at least 60% overall average GPA; this includes any credits transferred from other institutions into their current degree program

8 Understanding the OCN® and AOCN® Exams

The Oncology Nursing Certification Board administers the OCN® and AOCN® exams. The exam is a national exam in multiple choice format, administered through Pearson Vue.

The OCN® exam consists of 170 questions with an allotted time of 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete it. In order to pass, you must answer at least 150 questions correctly within this time frame.

The AOCN® exam consists of 170 questions with an allotted time of 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete it. In order to pass, you must answer at least 150 questions correctly within this time frame

9 Retaining Certification as an ONS Member

You must be a member of ONS to maintain certification as an ONS Registered Nurse. As of January 1, 2019 all RNs are required to pay annual dues to support the work and mission of ONS in order to achieve continuing education credits needed for recertification and/or renewal of your RN license.

The membership dues structure is determined by two factors: (1) the profession category in which you are eligible for membership and (2) your specialty area (e.g., oncology). For example, if you are an RN with specialization in oncology then your dues will be $90 per year ($60 base + $30 specialty). If you are not yet certified or wish only maintain general membership (i.e., no specialties), then you would pay $60 per year ($40 base + $20 specialty).

10 Oncology nursing is a great career for someone with a passion for helping others and working through complex issues.

Oncology nurses are excellent problem solvers. They work with complex issues and are patient advocates for their patients. There is a lot of research that goes into oncology nursing, but it’s a rewarding career if you’re interested in helping others and being part of a team.


The decision to pursue oncology certification can be a big one, but it’s worth it. You will have access to a network of nurses who have already been through the process and can help guide you along the way. You’ll also be able to take advantage of exclusive discounts on healthcare products and services that may not otherwise be available to non-ONC registered nurses.

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