Frequently Asked Questions

An unencumbered license is not currently being subjected to formal discipline by any state board of nursing and has no provisions or conditions that limit the nurse's practice in any way. Candidates and ONCC-certified nurses must notify ONCC in writing within 30 days if any restriction of any kind is placed on their RN license (including APRN license). Failure to notify ONCC may result in sanctions.

Continuing Medical Education (CME) is a form of continuing education created for physicians, although it can be completed by anyone in the medical field. Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) was created specifically for nurses. CNE and CME must be accredited to be accepted by ONCC.

Please note that for meeting the eligibility criteria for initial certification, a maximum of 50% of the 10 required CE contact hours may be CME. There is no limit on CNE.

For renewal purposes, CNE and CME are interchangeable and nurses may use either type. One contact hour of CNE is equal to one renewal point; one hour of CME is equal to one renewal point.

Candidates are required to show two forms of acceptable identification, including one form of photo ID. Both forms of ID must contain the candidate’s signature, and be current, valid, and non-expired. The name on both forms of ID must match the name on the Authorization to Test (ATT).

Candidates will not be admitted to the test without proper ID. Candidates who are not permitted to test due to invalid ID will forfeit their test fee, and must reapply and pay the full test fee in order to test during a subsequent interval.

Acceptable Identification for Admission to an ONCC Test

A Testing Window Transfer Request Form must be completed and submitted to ONCC with $100 payment before the expiration date of the current Authorization To Test (ATT). Candidates who have scheduled a test must cancel the appointment by contacting Prometric at least two business days prior to the appointment start time. Transfers will not be granted to candidates who do not cancel their testing appointment at least 48 hours in advance. Failure to cancel an appointment will result in forfeiture of all test fees paid. Transfers are granted one time only, and the test must be taken within the ensuing 12 months. Once a transfer is granted, no refunds will be issued, and all test fees will be forfeited if the test is not taken within 12 months.

Test candidates may request a refund of all but $100 (processing fee) of the test fee prior to the expiration of their ATT. A written request must be received by ONCC prior to the expiration of the ATT and include the candidate's name, address, and test date. Refund requests received after the expiration of the ATT will not be granted. Candidates who have scheduled a test must cancel the appointment by contacting Prometric at least two business days prior to the appointment start time. Candidates who do not cancel a scheduled test appointment will forfeit their test fee and will not receive a refund.

Test candidates may request a refund of all but $100 (processing fee) of the test fee prior to the expiration of their ATT. A written request must be received by ONCC prior to the expiration of the ATT and include the candidate's name, address and test date. Refund requests received after the expiration of the ATT will not be granted. Candidates who request a refund also must cancel their test appointment at least 2 days before the test appointment. See the ONCC Test Candidate Handbook for information on how to cancel a test appointment. Candidates who do not cancel a scheduled test appointment will forfeit their test fee and will not receive a refund.

Oncology nursing experience may be in clinical practice, education, administration, research or consultation. The role must require that it be filled only by an RN to qualify as nursing practice. Hours or months worked in positions that can be filled by non-nurses will not qualify as nursing practice. (Learn why the ONCC Board of Directors has clarified nursing practice for the purpose of certification and recertification.)

ONCC may request a candidate submit a current job description from the institution(s) at which the candidate is employed. The job description must be an official position description, not a job posting. It must include the company name/logo, job title, primary duties and responsibilities, and job specifications such as the education, skills and qualifications required for the position.

Nursing certification is a process to validate a registered nurse's qualification and knowledge of a specific area of nursing. To become certified, a nurse must meet minimal competency standards, as set by the agency that grants the certification. One purpose of nursing certification is to promote public safety. Certification assures the public that a certified nurse has completed all criteria required for a specific credential. Another purpose of certification is to promote the development of specialty areas of nursing by establishing minimal competency standards and recognizing those who have met those standards.

ONCC offers five certification examinations:

  1. OCN® (Oncology Certified Nurse)
  2. CPHON® Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse)
  3. CBCN® (Certified Breast Care Nurse)
  4. AOCNP® (Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner)
  5. BMTCN® (Blood and Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse)

In addition, ONCC offers renewal of AOCN® (Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse) certification, AOCNS® (Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist), and CPON® (Certified Pediatric Oncology Nurse) certification to nurses who currently hold the credential.

The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) recognizes the benefits of certification to patients and the public. ONS encourages oncology nurses to become certified. Read the ONS position on oncology certification of nurses.

In addition to certification programs, there are assessment-based certificate programs and continuing education programs. It is important for nurses to understand what each of these programs represents. The Institute for Credentialing Excellence has defined the differences between these types of programs.

The term "certification" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. “Certification” programs offered by different providers may not represent the same level of achievement. For example, some providers label continuing education (CE) programs as "certification." They tell participants they may call themselves "certified" upon completing the program. Nurses who have passed a comprehensive, broad-based certification examination, such as the OCN® test, know that completing a weekend CE program does not represent the same level of achievement. Nurses, as consumers, need to understand what each type of program represents in order to make wise decisions about programs. Nurses often spend their own money to become certified or attend CE programs. Employers also pay for these programs. Both nurses and employers should assess programs so that they understand what the program provides. Nurses and employers should not misrepresent themselves or those they employ as "certified" when they are not. Read full article.

The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) recognizes the benefits of certification to patients and the public. ONS encourages oncology nurses to become certified. Read the ONS position on oncology certification of nurses.

In addition to certification programs, there are assessment-based certificate programs and continuing education programs. It is important for nurses to understand what each of these programs represents. The Institute for Credentialing Excellence has defined the differences between these types of programs.

No. ONCC cannot release test items or correct answers because those items could then no longer be used on future tests. ONCC maintains a large bank of test items for each certification program, and new items are written often. However, it would be cost prohibitive to develop a new set of items for each test form that is administered. Candidates will receive a score report that indicates their performance in each of the test subject areas. This is shown by a bar graph that indicates the percentage of items the candidates answered correctly in each of the content areas of the test. The score report will not include numeric scores or percentages. Candidates are encouraged to use the performance indicators to identify subject areas where further study or professional development may be needed.

ONCC tests are scored using a scaled score. A scaled score is not a percentage score; it is a transformation of a raw score (number of items answered correctly) into a different unit of measurement. Two well-known tests administered in the United States that report scores as scaled scores are the ACT and SAT. A scaled score of 55 is the passing score for all ONCC tests. The 55 equates to different raw scores on various forms on the test depending on the difficulty of the form. Read more information on passing scores here.

Yes, ONCC will mail a congratulations packet to your home address including your certificate, wallet card, information about your certification maintenance and renewal, and other relevant information. You should receive your packet 4 – 6 weeks after passing the test.

Candidates who fail an ONCC test for a first or second time may apply to retake the test immediately following their 90-day window with no waiting period. Candidates who do not pass the test after three attempts are required to wait a minimum of one year before retaking the test. Candidates who fail the test on subsequent attempts must wait one year before retaking the test. If the three failures occurred over a period of more than three years, the candidate may retake the test without waiting a minimum of one year. Candidates must submit an application and test fee for each test, Candidates may not take the same certification test more than one time during a 90-day testing period.

Yes, the ONCC Certification Programs Managers are available to assist candidates with understanding their score reports and preparing to take the test again. Please contact ONCC Customer Service at oncc@oncc.org or 412-859-6104.

ONCC will notify you when you are eligible to take the assessment. In most cases, shortly after you renew your current certification by Option 1 (Professional Development Points) you’ll be notified that you’re eligible to take the assessment and begin preparing for your next renewal. The earlier you take the assessment, the more time you will have to complete the requirements. You cannot earn points for renewal until after you take the assessment. (Note: AOCN® and CPON® candidates do not take the assessment.)

If you don’t take the assessment you may renew by submitting a minimum of 100 ILNA points that exactly match the weighting of the respective test content outline (test blueprint) categories, or by successfully retesting. By taking the assessment, you’ll likely need fewer points for renewal.

You can earn points immediately after passing a certification test or completing the assessment. If it’s your first renewal after passing a test, your test score report will identify your learning needs and the points needed for renewal.

If you take the learning needs assessment, you can earn points after you take the assessment. It’s to your advantage to take the assessment as early as possible in your certification cycle, to provide plenty of time to earn the required points.

Yes. Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) must be approved for contact hours by an accredited provider or approver of nursing continuing education. You can find a list of acceptable approval bodies at www.oncc.org/content/continuing-education. Continuing Medical Education (CME) also must be accredited.

ONCC sends certified nurses reminders and other communications via mail, email, and phone. It is important to keep your current contact information in your ONCC profile at all times.

If you have unsubscribed from bulk emails, or use a workplace email address you may not receive email messages as intended. Please use a personal email address, or request your employer not block ONCC emails. Ask your email administrator to add emailer.realmagnet.com and realmagnet.com to your whitelist. Also, be sure to check your spam or junk mail folders regularly for communications from ONCC.

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