The idea of chemotherapy certification is a common misnomer and is commonly misinterpreted for the ONS/ Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy Certificate course. There is no didactic education or examination that results in a nationally recognized chemotherapy certification. Anecdotally, some institutions may use the phrase “chemo certified” to refer to the group of nurses who are able to administer the agents within the institution.
The only types of oncology certifications (OCN®, BTMCN®, AOCNP®, etc) are those offered through ONCC (www.oncc.org).
ONS does offer the provider card to learners who successfully complete one of two ONS courses: Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy: Fundamentals of Administration and ONS/ONCC Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy Certificate Course. This is to indicate that the learner completed all course requirements, but this should not be considered a certification.
ONS cannot validate chemotherapy competency, and it is therefore NOT considered part of the course requirements or a requirement to receive the provider card. However, ONS does recommend that institutions require a competency validation after completion of didactic content to administer chemotherapy independently within the institution. Each individual practice site needs to have its own written policies and procedures that articulate what will be required of its nurses to administer agents. ONS’s position statement (2017) notes that there is the completion of didactic content followed by completion of a competency under auspices of the nurses’ institution or supporting agency. It is up to the institution to determine how competency will be achieved.
Oncology Nursing Society (2017). Education of the nurse who administers and cares for the individual receiving chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Online Position Statement.