Institutions Share Strategies for High Test Success Rates

Find out how certain institutions are supporting oncology nurses with strategies to help them succeed in test taking.

By Kerstin Scheper, MSN, RN-BC, OCN®, CHPN

The ONCC FreeTake Program is designed to help institutions reduce the two most common barriers that discourage nurses from taking certification tests: anxiety from fear of failing and the financial burden of paying for the test upfront. Learn how two institutions – and their nurses – have found success.

Janice Nuuhiwa, MSN, APN, CNS, CPHON®, Staff Development Specialist at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, believes the ONCC FreeTake Program addresses the concerns of a millennial workforce striving for professional perfection. Janice explains how FreeTake provides a “safe space” by reducing the anxiety and stress that exists for this group of high achievers, resulting in an increased number of nurses applying for and passing the certification test. The Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital maintains an 86% pass rate for the Certified Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Nurse Certification (CPHON®). The institution offers a robust clinical ladder program which incorporates certification in professional development goals. Nurses striving for the highest expert level must achieve and maintain certification. To facilitate successful certification, the institution provides a comprehensive interactive and didactic two-day review course with continuing education contact hours at no cost to their employees. The course is offered annually and contains reflection activities to enhance learning and reduce test anxiety. In addition, nurses may complete a self-assessment based on the test blueprint and a staff development specialist is available to review the results and help develop a 3-month study guide. 

Candace Pasterski, Director, Patient Systems and Support at Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin credits the institution’s 90% OCN® Certification pass rate to the efforts of their dedicated education team. Colleen McCracken, BSN, RN, CMSRN, CHPN, OCN® and Rebecca Martin, BSN, RN, OCN®, BMTCN® provide ongoing and real time education to the institutions’ oncology nurses. Their comprehensive program includes an Introduction to Oncology Course with 6 classes that cover core topics of disease and treatment. The team provides monthly educational sessions, an annual review course, and a yearly skills fair and laboratory simulation specific to oncology and chemotherapy administration. The program fosters a “buddy system” in which several staff nurses set up study groups 6 months prior to the test and make a pact to take the test together.

These exceptional institutions are supporting the professional growth and development of oncology nurses in adult and pediatric oncology with strategies that help them succeed.