What Is Required for a RN to Receive a Chemotherapy Certification?

As a registered nurse (RN), you can obtain chemotherapy certification to prove your skills and knowledge in the field. Certification is usually voluntary, but in a specialty, such as chemotherapy nursing, it can make you stand out to employers. Keep reading to find out more about the requirements for chemotherapy certification. Schools offering Anatomy & Physiology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Chemotherapy Certification Overview

Chemotherapy is a common medical practice used to fight cancer. If you work with chemotherapy patients, you'll need to have specialized knowledge and skills in this area of medicine. Chemotherapy certification can allow you to prove what you know and what you can do. Typically, chemotherapy certification is gained under certification in the field of oncology.

The Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) offers nationally recognized certification options for nurses working in the field of oncology (www.oncc.org). The ONCC certifications include the Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN), Certified Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurse (CPHON), Oncology Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP), Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AOCNS) and Certified Breast Care Nurse (CBCN). While the requirements for each certification may vary slightly, you must meet specific education and training requirements, as well as pass an exam to earn initial certification. The education and training requirements are profiled further below.

Certification Requirements

All certifications from the ONCC require you to hold a nursing license that is active without any restrictions. Licensing is handled at the state level, but typically requires completion of a formal education program in nursing. You may complete a diploma program or an associate or bachelor's degree program to meet these education requirements. You must also pass the national nursing exam - National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Beyond the licensing requirement, each certification has specific experience requirements. Advanced nursing roles, such as nurse practitioners, will need to have a master's degree in nursing.

Oncology Certified Nurse

For the OCN credential, the minimum experience requirements include 1,000 hours within the last 30 months working in adult oncology nursing and 12 months working as a RN in the past 36 months. Additionally, you must have a minimum of ten contact hours in nursing continuing education (CE) or have completed an oncology nursing course within the past 36 months.

Certified Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurse

Additional requirements for the CPHON designation include 12 months working as a RN in the past 36 months, pediatric oncology or hematology nursing experience of at least 1,000 hours in the past 30 months and CE in nursing of a minimum of ten contact hours within the last 36 months.

Oncology Nurse Practitioner and Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist

The AOCNP designation requires at least a master's degree in nursing and completion of an advanced nurse practitioner program. You must also have supervised clinical nursing experience of at least 500 hours as an adult oncology nurse practitioner, or 1,000 hours if you're master's degree with not specifically in oncology. Another advanced nurse practitioner designation, the AOCNS, requires you meet the same education and experience requirements as the AOCPN.

Certified Breast Care Nurse

The CBCN designation requires 12 months of work experience as a RN in the past 36 months with 1,000 hours of work in breast care nursing in the past 30 months. You also need at least ten contact hours of CE in nursing within the past 36 months.

Certification Options Explained

The Oncology Certified Nurse designation is ideal for you if you have a basic knowledge of cancer nursing that focuses on adult care. A Certified Pediatric Oncology Nurse or Certified Pediatric Hematology Nurse designation covers you if you administer medications, provide emotional support or provide hospice care to children and young adults who have cancer.

As an advanced practice nurse who performs cancer risk assessments, assesses the late and secondary effects of cancer, coordinates end-of-life care and helps patients and families cope with cancer, you may consider the Advanced Oncology Nurse Practitioner designation. The Advanced Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist designation is for you if you have an in depth knowledge of pharmacology, pathophysiology and patient assessment.

The Certified Breast Care Nurse designation is right for you if your focus is on providing inclusive care that ranges from screenings and early detection to diagnosing, treating and managing breast cancer. This certification is the only comprehensive certification offered by a nursing organization for registered nurses focusing on breast care.

Maintaining Certification

The ONCC certifications must be renewed periodically to ensure up-to-date certification. In general, renewal requires an active certification and an active RN license. Additionally, most of the certifications require an additional 1,000 hours of oncology nursing experience in the two and a half years prior to applying for renewal.

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