Navigating a complex health care system of unfamiliar tests and treatments is a terrifying, often-lonesome journey for patients with cancer. But nurses can provide clinical expertise, detailed explanations and guidance in a sea of uncertainty. To steward patients through their diagnoses, many nurses seek oncology certification to demonstrate clinical expertise and a commitment to the art of oncology nursing — for themselves and for their patients.

Certification demonstrates a nurse’s education and specialized knowledge in patient-centered cancer care. Only 1 percent of all U.S. registered nurses are oncology certified. They must meet strict criteria to qualify: at least 2,000 hours in oncology practice and more than two years of registered nursing experience. Currently, more than 39,000 practicing nurses have certification through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC).

ONCC offers eight credentialing programs, connecting nurses with clinical areas that best match their expertise, including Oncology Certified Nurse and Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse, as well as Blood and Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse.

Taking cancer care to the next level

“All oncology nurses are proud of what they do... But certification helps them become champions in practice. Nurses are finding themselves with new career opportunities through certification, and it continually bolsters their self-confidence in practice.”

Oncology nurses are already highly trained health care professionals. But obtaining certification means that nurses have doubled down on their commitment to providing the highest quality patient-centered care. Oncology-certified nurses have sought continuing education opportunities and voluntarily entered the process of applying for, achieving and maintaining certification. It’s no easy task—but it’s one that demonstrates a commitment to patients and the profession.

“Certified nurses wear their designations like a badge of honor,” Becky O’Shea, APRN, OCN®, AOCNS®, CBCN®, CNS, president of ONCC’s Board of Directors, says. “It shows their commitment to excellence and that they value the knowledge and specialization required to care for patients with cancer. These nurses are lifelong learners who go above and beyond for their patients.”

For certification, each nurse must pass a three-hour, in-depth examination demonstrating their clinical expertise. Nurses must maintain certification through ongoing education to stay current with evolving oncology trends.

Leading the Way

Oncology-certified nurses are leaders among their peers. They’re mentors, patient advocates and motivators, pushing for excellence in practice. Oncology-certified nurses are moving the needle in patient care.

“All oncology nurses are proud of what they do,” O’Shea says. “But certification helps them become champions in practice. Nurses are finding themselves with new career opportunities through certification, and it continually bolsters their self-confidence in practice.”

Oncology nursing certification is key to creating powerful, confident nurses who offer the best patient-centered cancer care possible.