As soon as you learn that you or a family member has cancer, the journey begins. The care and support you receive during your journey are important. They will help you cope with the challenges along the way.
The support of family and friends play a big part in your journey. But, they aren't the only ones who can help. Registered nurses who specialize in cancer care, especially oncology certified nurses, have the expertise to provide you with support.
What is an oncology certified nurse?
Certified oncology nurses have proven their knowledge of cancer care by passing a test. The test is a hard one. It is meant to be hard so it will ensure that nurses who pass it have in-depth knowledge of cancer care. Before they can take the test, these nurses must have experience as cancer nurses. And, they must have completed educational programs where they learned more about cancer care.
Some oncology certified nurses specialize in providing care for children with cancer. Others provide care to adults who have cancer. There are oncology certified nurses working in many places where you may be treated – hospitals, cancer treatment centers, doctor's offices, and in home care.
What does a certified nurse mean to people with cancer?
Becoming an oncology certified nurse is hard – so it tells you the nurses who are certified have made an extra effort to prove their knowledge. It shows the certified nurse is committed to caring for people with cancer.
How can I tell if my nurse is certified?
Many oncology certified nurses will tell you they are certified – because it's a big accomplishment. But the best way to know is to ask. It's ok to ask, “Are you an oncology certified nurse?” It's your right to know the knowledge of the people who are providing your care.
Types of Oncology Certified Nurses
Oncology Certified Nurse or OCN® – The Oncology Certified Nurse or OCN® credential means a nurse has the knowledge to competently care for adult patients with cancer at the basic level in oncology nursing. But don’t let the word “basic” fool you – nurses who are certified as OCN®s have wide knowledge of the many issues involved in providing care for patients with cancer. Most of the nurses who are certified in oncology are certified as OCN®.
Certified Pediatric Oncology Nurse or CPON® and Certified Pediatric Hematology Nurse or CPHON ® – The Certified Pediatric Oncology Nurse (CPON®) or Certified Pediatric Hematology Nurse (CPHON®) credential means the nurse has the knowledge to competently provide care for children with cancer and their families. Children who have cancer require special care; CPHON® and CPON® certified nurses know how to provide it.
Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse or AOCN® – The Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse or AOCN® credential means the nurse has the knowledge to competently perform in an advanced role in cancer care. Nurses who have advanced certification have in-depth knowledge that goes beyond the basics of cancer care.
Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner or AOCNP® – The Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner or AOCNP® credential means the nurse has the knowledge to competently perform as an adult oncology nurse practitioner. Before a nurse can take the AOCNP® test, she or he must have a masters or higher degree in nursing, have a completed a nurse practitioner program, and have completed 500 hours of supervised practice as an adult oncology nurse practitioner.
Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist or AOCNS®– The Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist or AOCNS® also has the knowledge to competently practice as an adult oncology clinical nurse specialist. In order to take the AOCNS® test, the nurse must have a masters or higher degree in nursing, and have completed 500 hours of supervised practice as an adult oncology clinical nurse specialist.
Certified Breast Care Nurse or CBCN® – The Certified Breast Care Nurse or CBCN® credential means a nurse has the knowledge to competently provide breast care nursing. Nurses who are certified as CBCN®s have wide knowledge of the many issues involved in providing breast care from prevention and detection, through diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.
Blood and Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse or BMTCN™ – The Blood and Marrow Transplantation Certified Nurse or BMTCN™ credential means a nurse has tested knowledge in the specialty area of blood and marrow stem cell transplantation. Nurses who are BMTCN™ certified have in-depth knowledge of the various types of transplants and the specialized nursing care patients need before, during, and after transplant.
How to File a Complaint About an ONCC-Certified Nurse
All ONCC certified nurses are expected to adhere to ONCC’s Code of Ethics. If an ONCC-certified nurse is not adhering to the standards, consumers and others may report the nurse to ONCC with our contact form or call us at 877-769-6622. ONCC shall thoroughly investigate complaints against ONCC-certified nurses. Anonymous reports will not be addressed.
Links & Resources
- Verify a nurse is oncology certified
- American Cancer Society – Information on patient care and resources
- theCancerJourney.org – Information about common side effects of cancer treatments, like fatigue or pain
- The Cancer Support Community – an international non-profit dedicated to providing support, education and hope to people affected by cancer.
- Cure Search – Information about resources and treatments for children with cancer
- Livestrong – Information on living with cancer
- National Cancer Institute – Information on patient care
- National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship – Information and resources on issues for people living with cancer as well as their family, friends, and caregivers
- Susan G. Komen for the Cure – Information about breast cancer support and education
- Pleural Mesothelioma Center – Information about mesothelioma treatment, support and legal issues
- Mesothelioma Guide – Information designed to provide mesothelioma patients and their loved ones with answers, information and healthcare solutions