ONP - Oncology Nurse Practitioner Jobs

What Does An Oncology Nurse Practitioner Do?

An oncology nurse practitioner (ONP) is a type of advanced practice nurse.  All ONPs are registered nurses (RNs).  They assist patients and families in coping with various types of cancer.  They have completed advanced education and clinical experience in managing the physical and psychological needs associated with oncology patients.  According to Nursing License Map, ONPs provide primary, acute, or tertiary care in a number of healthcare settings.  They can choose to work in a subspecialty such as pediatric oncology.

What Are The Job Roles For An ONP?

  • Developing medical management strategies
  • Making diagnoses
  • Prescribing treatment and medications
  • Educating about cancer prevention
  • Providing support for patients’ families

Job Characteristics

  • Work is structured.
  • Duties are research-oriented.
  • Job includes significant face-to-face patient contact.
  • Responsibilities can be stressful.

What Education & Certification Is Needed For An ONP?

RNs with a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) plus oncology training can become oncology nurses.  However, to become an ONP, they must complete a graduate program that provides more in-depth knowledge of cancer pathology and treatment, GraduateNursingEDU reports.

The first step is obtaining a BSN for an RN credential.  For licensing eligibility, graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), according to Discover Nursing, an ONP must have a master’s degree in nursing (MSN).  Sometimes oncology is a subspecialty program within a patient focus, such as gerontology.

For nurse practitioners with a master’s degree but lacking special training in oncology, post-master’s oncology certificate programs are available.  Some ONPs with a research or education interest opt to earn doctoral degrees such as a DNP, PhD, or DNSc.  ONP certification is available from the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC).

What Are The Degree Requirements For An ONP?

Nursing License Map indicates that to become an ONP, an RN must complete at least a master’s degree program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.  This program must offer a concentration in oncology or in adult, family, women’s, or geriatric health.  A number of online master’s degree programs are available.

Among the top schools offering graduate programs for ONPs are these:

What Certification Is Needed For An ONP?

The ONCC offers the Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP) certification.

Applicants must have completed acceptable graduate programs and 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours relevant to oncology.  For concentrations other than oncology, the requirement is 1,000 hours.  In order to sit for the exam, applicants must provide proof of educational credentials and a current nursing license.  Certification is good for four years.

What Are the CEU Requirements As An ONP?

The continuing education requirements to maintain licensing in each state are available in our CNE guide. Renewal of ONP certification has specific professional development requirements.

Continuing education units from approved institutions can be used toward meeting those requirements.  In addition, most employers offer continuing education to employees as either onsite or online training to stay abreast of constantly changing regulatory requirements.

Where Can I Work As An ONP?

  • Hospitals
  • Veterans’ facilities
  • Ambulatory care centers
  • Home health care
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Hospices
  • Extended care facilities
  • Private practice

Vonda J. Sines is a freelance writer based in the Washington, DC area. She specializes in health/medical, career, and pet topics and writes extensively about Crohn's disease. Her work has been published at EverydayHealth, Lifescript, womansday.com, Yahoo! Health, Catholic Digest, Angie's List Health, and on many more sites.


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