Chemotherapy Certification Information for Nurses

Sep 24, 2019

A chemotherapy certification is not specifically available, but nurses can receive relevant credentials by becoming certified oncology nurses. Continue reading for an overview of the qualifications and requirements for certification, as well as job growth and salary statistics related to a few career options for certified professionals.

Registered nurses often choose to pursue additional certification to specialize in a particular area of medical treatment. Those interested in working with patients with cancer may take a chemotherapy competency course or become a certified oncology nurse.

Essential Information

Registered nurses (RNs) looking to continue their education and specialize in cancer treatment should consider taking a chemotherapy competency course. In addition, although there are no specific certifications available for chemotherapy alone, an RN can specialize in such treatments by becoming certified as an oncology nurse.

Required Education Completion of a diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree program in nursing, an RN license, completion of a chemotherapy competency course and passage of an oncology nurse certification examination
Qualifications for the Chemotherapy Competency Course Must be an RN with six months of experience, fulfill 13.5 contact hours, pass a post-course exam and complete an online evaluation
Certification Examination Requirements Applicants need an RN license, a year of experience, 1,000 hours of specialization experience and ten continuing education contact hours. Advanced certifications require a master's degree or higher and additional clinical experience.
Certification Specializations Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN),
Certified Pediatric Hematology, Oncology Nurse (CPHON),
Certified Breast Care Nurse (CBCN),
Blood and Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse (BMTCN),
Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP),
Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist (AOCNS)
Median Salary (October 2019)* $73,000 for Oncology Nurses with Oncology Certified Nurse credential


Certification Information in Chemotherapy for Nurses

Although an unrestricted registered nurse license qualifies one to practice as a nurse anywhere in the United States, individual hospitals or other employment agencies have additional chemotherapy competency requirements. The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) offers chemotherapy competency courses that will prepare the registered nurse for the requirements set by their employer. Additionally, the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) offers certification examinations for oncology nurses.

Chemotherapy Competency Course

The ONS offers a chemotherapy and biotherapy program. This 2-day program will prepare students to administer chemotherapy to patients. To register for the course students must be an RN who has been employed for a minimum of six months.

The course attendee must complete 13.5 contact hours, pass a post-course test and fill out an online evaluation. The successful candidate will receive continuing nursing education credit and an ONS Chemotherapy Provider Card that lasts two years and is renewable. Successfully completing this chemotherapy course fulfills the continuing education requirement of the basic oncology nursing certification exams.

Oncology Nursing Certification

Becoming certified as an oncology nurse, to further a nursing career and gain professional credentials in treatments like chemotherapy, requires the successful completion of certification tests. The ONCC offers six certification tests:

  • Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN)
  • Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON)
  • Certified Breast Care Nurse (CBCN)
  • Blood and Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse (BMTCN)
  • Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP)
  • Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist (AOCNS)

All exams require an unrestricted RN license, while the basic exams also require a minimum of one year's nursing experience, 1,000 hours of experience in the specialization field and a minimum of ten continuing nursing education contact hours. The advanced exams require a master's or higher degree in nursing plus a minimum of 500 hours of clinical practice in an advanced practice role in oncology nursing.

Job Outlook and Salary Stats

According to data published by in September 2019, the median salary of oncology nurses with the Oncology Certified Nurse credential who reported their earnings to the website was $73,000. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a much faster-than-average job growth of 12% in the registered nursing field between 2018 and 2028.

A chemotherapy competency course is a two-day training program that prepares nurses to administer chemotherapy treatments to patients. A minimum of six months of nursing experience is required to register for this course. Registered nurses who wish to specialize in the field of oncology can also consider earning an oncology nursing certification, which requires passing competency exams, offered in six areas of specialization.

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