Testing and Renewal

What is Nursing Certification?

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 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 develop specialty nursing by establishing minimal competency standards and recognizing nurses who have met the standards.

Eligibility for Initial Certification

Any candidate who does not currently hold the desired certification is considered an initial candidate, including candidates whose certification has lapsed. Nursing experience may be in clinical practice, nursing administration, education, 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.)  Initial certification is available for OCN®, CPHON®, AOCNP®, CBCN®, and BMTCN® certification.

OCN®

  • A current, active, unencumbered license as a registered nurse in the US, its territories or Canada at the time of application and examination, and
  • A minimum of two years (24 months) of experience as an RN within the four years (48 months) prior to application, and
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours of adult oncology nursing practice within the four years (48 months) prior to application, and
  • Completed a minimum of 10 contact hours of nursing continuing education in oncology or an academic elective in oncology nursing within the three years (36 months) prior to application. The contact hours must have been provided or formally approved by an acceptable accredited provider or approver of nursing continuing education. A maximum of five of the 10 required contact hours in oncology may be continuing medical education (CME) in oncology.

CPHON®

  • A current, active, unencumbered license as a registered nurse in the US, its territories or Canada at the time of application and examination, and
  • A minimum of two years (24 months) of experience as an RN within the four years (48 months) prior to application, and
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours of pediatric oncology or hematology nursing practice within the four years (48 months) prior to application, and
  • Completed a minimum of 10 contact hours of nursing continuing education in hematology or oncology, or an academic elective in hematology or oncology nursing within the three years (36 months) prior to application. The contact hours must have been provided or formally approved by an acceptable accredited provider/approver of nursing continuing education. A maximum of five of the 10 required contact hours in hematology or oncology nursing may be continuing medical education (CME) in oncology.

CBCN®

  • A current, active, unencumbered license as a registered nurse in the US, its territories or Canada at the time of application and examination, and
  • A minimum of two years (24 months) of experience as an RN within the four years (48 months) prior to application, and
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours of breast care nursing practice within the four years (48 months) prior to application, and
  • Completed a minimum of 10 contact hours of nursing continuing education in breast care within the three years (36 months) prior to application. The contact hours must have been provided or formally approved by an acceptable accredited provider/approver of nursing continuing education. A maximum of five of the 10 required contact hours in breast care may be continuing medical education (CME) in breast care.

BMTCN®

  • A current, active, unencumbered license as an RN in the US, its territories or Canada at the time of application and examination; and
  • A minimum of two years (24 months) experience as an RN within the four years (48 months) prior to application; and
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours of BMT nursing experience within the four years (48 months) prior to application*; and
  • Completed a minimum of 10 contact hours of nursing continuing education in blood and marrow stem cell transplantation or an academic elective in blood and marrow stem cell transplantation nursing within the three years (36 months prior to application. The contact hours must have been provided or formally approved by an acceptable accredited provider or approver of nursing continuing education. A maximum of 5 (50%) of the 10 required contact hours in blood and marrow stem cell transplantation may be continuing medical education (CME) in blood and marrow stem cell transplantation nursing.

AOCNP®

Pathway 1
  • Current, active, unencumbered license as a registered nurse in the US, its territories or Canada
  • Graduate degree from accredited NP program with concentration in oncology
  • 500 hours supervised clinical practice as an adult oncology nurse practitioner obtained within and/or following the graduate program within the past five years
  • One graduate level oncology course of at least 2 credits or 30 hours oncology continuing education within the past five years

Pathway 2

  • Current, active, unencumbered license as a registered nurse in the US, its territories or Canada
  • Graduate degree from accredited nurse practitioner program with concentration in adult (primary or acute), family (across lifespan), gerontology, or women’s health
  • 1000 hours practice as an adult oncology nurse practitioner obtained within and/or following the graduate program within the past five years
  • One graduate level oncology course of at least 2 credits or 30 hours oncology continuing education within the past five years

Eligibility Calculator

Calculate your oncology experience hours by entering the appropriate information in the calculator.

Test Application Instructions

ONCC offers secure online registration. All ONCC test and renewal candidates are required to apply online, including candidates who want to retake a test. Login to your ONCC account to apply.

View Test Dates, Application Deadlines, and Fees

Forms

AOCNP® Candidate Practice Verification Form – Pathway 1 Testing Accommodations Request Form

Test Scores and Results Reports

Results Reports

Candidates will receive an official PASS/FAIL result at the test center. Prometric will send candidates a copy of the results report by email approximately one hour after taking the test. Candidates testing in 2020 may also login to a secure portal to retrieve their results report. Results reports will not be mailed to candidates. Official results reports indicate PASS/FAIL and indicate the candidate’s performance in each of the test subject areas. The results report will not include numeric scores or percentages. Candidates should use the performance indicators to identify subject areas where further study or professional development may be needed.

Results reports will not indicate which test items the candidate answered incorrectly. Releasing test items would make it possible for future test candidates to see test items in advance. This would give those candidates an unfair advantage over candidates who do not see the items. Candidates should keep in mind that the purpose of a certification test is to validate specialized knowledge rather than provide education.

All candidates should retain their results report for future reference. Passing candidates will need the results report to identify subject areas where they may earn points for renewal. Failing candidates should use the results report to identify areas where additional study may be needed before retesting.

Passing Scores

The passing scores for the ONCC tests were established via a systematic procedure (a Passing Score Study) that employed the judgment of groups of oncology nursing professionals representing various geographical areas, practice settings, roles, and subspecialties. Because of ONCC's commitment to quality and test security, there are multiple forms of each certification examination.

ONCC and the test vendor develop the various forms of each test from the Test Content Outlines. The level of difficulty of the forms may vary slightly because different questions appear on different forms. Because it would be unfair to require a candidate taking a slightly more difficult form of the test to answer as many questions correctly as a candidate taking an easier form, the statistical procedure known as equating is used to correct for differences in test difficulty. Equating is dependent upon a sufficient number of test candidates. If fewer candidates register than are required for accurate equating, another passing score study is conducted.

ONCC reserves the right to cancel the scores of any candidate who violates the Professional Examination Rules or to cancel scores resulting from any testing irregularity.

Log in to Prometric's Report Lookup portal

Certificates and Wallet Cards

ONCC provides a personalized certificate and wallet card for each candidate who passes the test or meets the renewal requirements approximately 8 weeks after scores are reported.

Pass Rates

Most nurses who take an ONCC certification test pass the test on the first attempt. See the table below for an overview of pass rates for each examination by year, or click on the link for the 2018 detailed statistics.

2018 Examination Stats



 

Renewal Eligibility Criteria

Renewal candidates are those candidates who apply for renewal by the required deadline date in the calendar year that certification is due for renewal. Nursing experience may be in clinical practice, nursing administration, education, 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.)

OCN®

  • Current OCN® certification, and
  • Current, active, unencumbered* license as a registered nurse in the US, its territories or Canada, and
  • A minimum of one year (12 months) experience as an RN within the three years (36 months) prior to application, and
  • A minimum of 1,000 hours of oncology nursing practice (adult care) within the two-and-one-half years (30 months) prior to application.

AOCNP®

  • Current AOCNP® certification, and
  • Current, active, unencumbered* license as a registered nurse in the US, its territories or Canada, and
  • A minimum of 1,000 hours practice as a nurse practitioner in adult oncology within the four years (48 months) prior to application.

AOCNS®

  • Current AOCNS® certification, and
  • Current, active, unencumbered* license as a registered nurse in the US, its territories or Canada, and
  • A minimum of 1,000 hours of practice in a role or roles of the clinical nurse specialist in adult oncology within the four years (48 months) prior to application.

AOCN®

  • Current AOCN® certification, and
  • Current, active, unencumbered* license as a registered nurse in the US, its territories or Canada, and
  • A minimum of 1,000 hours in adult oncology nursing practice within the four years (48 months) prior to application.

CPON®

  • Current CPON® certification, and
  • Current, active, unencumbered* license as a registered nurse in the US, its territories or Canada, and
  • A minimum of one year (12 months) experience as an RN within the three years (36 months) prior to application, and
  • A minimum of 1,000 hours of pediatric oncology nursing practice within the two-and-one-half years (30 months) prior to application.

CBCN®

  • Current CBCN® certification, and
  • Current, active, unencumbered* license as a registered nurse in the US, its territories or Canada, and
  • A minimum of one year (12 months) experience as an RN within the three years (36 months) prior to application, and
  • A minimum of 1,000 hours of breast care nursing practice within the two-and-one-half years (30 months) prior to application.

CPHON®

  • Current CPHON® certification, and
  • Current, active, unencumbered* license as a registered nurse in the US, its territories or Canada, and
  • A minimum of one year (12 months) experience as an RN within the three years (36 months) prior to application, and
  • A minimum of 1,000 hours of pediatric oncology nursing practice within the two-and-one-half years (30 months) prior to application.

 

Renewal Options

Candidates must meet two of three components required for renewal: practice hours, professional development points (Renewal Points), or successful retesting. There are three recertification options, based on these components:

  • Option 1 Renewal Points: Practice Hours + Professional development points
  • Option 2 Testing: Practice Hours + successful testing*
  • Option 3 Renewal Points + Testing: Professional development points + Successful testing*

*AOCN®, AOCNS® and CPON® certifications may only be renewed by Option 1.

Option 1: Points Renewal Applications

  • September 15 (year renewal is due) – save $100 off final deadline fee by submitting application and Learning Plan.
  • October 15 (year renewal is due)  – final date to submit applications and learning plans (non-discounted fee).

Option 2 (Test) Renewal Applications

Candidates who plan to renew by Option 2: Practice Hours + Successful testing must submit their test application form several months before their current certification expires to be assigned a test eligibility period that allows them to take the test before their certification expires.

Option 3 (Test + Points) Renewal Applications

Candidates renewing by Option 3 must pass the certification examination and meet the requirements for renewal during the year in which certification expires. Applications and learning plans must be received by the application deadline.

Candidates should note the renewal application deadline dates in the year renewal is due. Certification cannot be renewed after it expires. Nurses whose certification has lapsed must meet the eligibility criteria for initial candidates and pass the test in order to become certified again in the future.

 

Deadlines, Dates & Fees

Certification renewal is due every four years. All ONCC certifications expire on December 31 of the year in which renewal is due. Renewal applications are due several months before the certification expiration date.

Renewal Application Deadline, Dates & Fees

Audits

To ensure the integrity of the renewal process ONCC audits a percentage of randomly selected renewal applications each year. Candidates whose applications are selected for audit will be notified and required to provide additional documentation.

Candidates Who Fail the Renewal Test May Not Renew by ILNA

Candidates who choose to renew by Option 2 (testing), and who do not pass the test, may not renew their credential by Option 1. Candidates who elect to retest, and who do not pass the test, must take the test again prior to their certification expiration to renew their credential.

Candidates Who Are Denied Renewal by ILNA May Retest

Candidates who apply for renewal by Option 1 and are denied renewal due to insufficient points will not be granted a fee refund. However, those who are denied renewal by Option 1 may apply to take the test during the next 12 months with payment of a $100 transfer fee, if they meet the test application deadline. ONCC cannot guarantee candidates a decision on their renewal application in time to register for a test unless the application is received at least three months prior to the test application deadline.

Candidates who are Denied Renewal by ILNA Will Not be Refunded

Candidates who apply for renewal by Option 1 and who are denied renewal will not be granted a fee refund. This includes candidates who are denied renewal due to insufficient points, insufficient documentation, or failure to submit audit or other documentation requested by ONCC.

Renewal Notices

ONCC sends certified nurses multiple renewal reminders by mail, email, and phone. It is important to keep your current contact information in your ONCC account at all times. Because delivery of renewal notices can't be guaranteed, it is the candidate’s responsibility to apply for renewal of certification before the application deadline date. If you have unsubscribed from bulk emails or use a workplace email address you may not receive email messages. Please use a personal email address or request your employer not block ONCC emails. Check your spam or junk mail folders regularly for communications from ONCC.


Reinstatement Policy

  • Candidates who wish to maintain their certification, but miss the final deadline for certification renewal, may:
    1. Apply to re-take the examination in the following year as an initial candidate, or
    2. Apply for certification reinstatement by Option 1 (practice hours + Points) on or before March 31 of the year immediately following the credential expiration date, or
    3. Apply for certification reinstatement by Option 3 (test + Points) and test on or before March 31 of the year immediately following the credential expiration date.
  • Nurses may not use the credential after their certification expires on December 31, but may again use the credential after being notified that their certification has been reinstated
  • Reinstatement is retroactive and the certification period will not be extended for nurses who reinstate.
  • Reinstatement requires the candidate to submit all required applications and points, as well as documentation of meeting the Option 1 or Option 3 requirements, as they would do if their learning plans were audited. All CE certificates, transcripts or other documentation that would usually be required if the candidate submitted the application on time and was audited must be submitted with the application for reinstatement.
  • Candidates who apply for reinstatement must submit their application and required documentation to ONCC by mail or fax; learning plans must be submitted electronically.
  • Candidates must pay the reinstatement fee of $300, in addition to the final deadline application fee for Option 1 or Option 3.
  • Candidates who miss the final deadline for reinstatement of their certification may utilize the Review and Appeals Policy. All requests for review and appeal must document the extenuating circumstances that caused the candidates to miss the deadline.
  • Candidates who apply for reinstatement may earn points up to the date the reinstatement application is submitted; points earned after March 31 will not be accepted.