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, 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.

(Learn why the ONCC Board of Directors has clarified nursing practice for the purpose of certification and recertification.)

ONCC offers six certification examinations.

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. Initial certification is available for OCN®, CPHON®, AOCNP®, AOCNS®, 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 one year (12 months) of experience as an RN within the three years (36 months) prior to application, and
  • A minimum of 1,000 hours of adult oncology nursing practice within the two-and-one-half years (30 months) prior to application, and
  • Completed a minimum of 10 contact hours of continuing nursing 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 continuing nursing 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 one year (12 months) of experience as an RN within the three years (36 months) prior to application, and
  • A minimum of 1,000 hours of pediatric oncology or hematology nursing practice within the two-and-one-half years (30 months) prior to application, and
  • Completed a minimum of 10 contact hours of continuing nursing education (CNE) 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 CNE. 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 one year (12 months) of 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, and
  • Completed a minimum of 10 contact hours of continuing nursing education (CNE) 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 CNE. 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 12 months experience as an RN within the three years (36 months) prior to application; and
  • A minimum of 1,000 hours of BMT nursing experience within the two and one-half years (30 months) prior to application*; and
  • Completed a minimum of 10 contact hours of continuing nursing 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 continuing nursing 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.

Eligibility Calculator

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

Test Information

ONCC offers secure online registration. All ONCC candidates for testing and renewal are required to apply online, except in special situations as noted below.
Only candidates who meet one or more of the criteria below should submit a paper application form.

  • Test candidates who are testing for a second or subsequent time in the same calendar year
  • Renewal candidates who are renewing more than one credential at the same time
  • Renewal candidates who are using Option 3 (Test + ILNA Points)
  • Reinstatement candidates
  • The employer is paying for certification at the time of application, and cannot provide online payment by credit card

*Candidates who do not meet one of the criteria above and who submit a paper application fee will be charged a $25 paper handling fee.

View 2016 Test Dates, Application Deadlines, and Fees

Test application form

2016 OCN® Test Application Form 2016 CPHON® Test Application Form  2016 BMTCN® Test Application Form  2016 CBCN® Test Application Form  2016 AOCNP® Test Application Form  2016 AOCNS® Test Application Form AOCNP® Candidate Practice Verification Form – Pathway 1 AOCNS® Candidate Practice Verification Form – Pathway 1 Testing Accommodations Request Form Transfer Request Form

2016 Renewal Application

Note: For certification, nursing practice includes hours or months worked in a role that must be filled by an RN. Hours worked in roles that can be filled by an individual other than an RN do not qualify as nursing practice. Candidates without practice hours may only renew by Option 3. (Learn why the ONCC Board of Directors has clarified nursing practice for the purpose of certification and recertification.)

Test scores and Score Reports

Score Reports

Candidates will receive an official score report on screen and in print at the test center; score reports will not be mailed to candidates. Official score reports indicate PASS/FAIL, and indicate the candidate’s performance in each of the test subject areas. 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.

Score reports will not indicate which test items the candidate answered incorrectly. ONCC cannot provide this information to candidates. 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. If test items or answers were released to candidates the items could not be used on a future test. 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 score report for future reference. Successful candidates will need the information to prepare for certification renewal, because the score report identifies content areas where they may earn points for renewal. Failing candidates should use the score report and the performance indicators 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 Prometric develop the various forms of each test from the test content outlines (test blueprints), however, 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.

View a Sample of a 2016 Score Report

Certificates and Wallet Cards

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

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.

Pass Rates

Good news — most nurses who take an ONCC certification test, pass the test. See the table below for an overview of pass rates for each examination by year, or click on the link for the 2015 detailed statistics.

2015 Examination Stats


Passrate image

 

Renewal Eligibility Criteria

Renewal Candidates are those candidates who are applying for renewal by the required deadline date in the calendar year in which 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 and recertification.)

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.

Eligibility Calculator

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

 

Renewal Options

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

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

*AOCN® and CPON® certification may only be renewed by Option 1.

Option 1: ILNA Points Renewal Applications and Logs

  • June 15, 2016 – be entered to win a lifetime of free renewal and save $100 off the final deadline fee by submitting your application and Learning Plans
  • September 15, 2016 – save $100 off final deadline fee by submitting application and Learning Plan.
  • October 15, 2016 – final date to submit applications and Learning Plans (non-discounted fee).

Option 2 (Test) Renewal Applications

Candidates who are planning to renew by Option 2: Practice Hours + Successful testing must submit their test application form by the appropriate application deadline date for the desired examination.

Option 3 (Test + ILNA Points) Renewal Applications and Logs

Candidates renewing by test must meet the test application deadline date and pass the examination during the year in which certification expires. 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 for Option 3 must be received by the application deadline.

Candidates should note the application deadline dates during 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.

Continuing Competency

Read ONCC’s philosophy on continuing competency related to certification renewal.

Deadlines, Dates & Fees

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

2016 Renewal Application Deadline, Dates & Fees

Audits

To ensure the integrity of the renewal process, ONCC will audit 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 refund of the fee. 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 a decision to candidates on their renewal application in time to register for the 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 refund of the fee. 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 profile 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 as intended. Please use a personal email address, or request your employer not block ONCC emails. Also, be sure to 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 + ILNA 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 + ILNA 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 logs, 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 must have earned all points by December 31 of the year certification was due for renewal; points earned after December 31 will not be accepted.