Few medical fields can change as rapidly as oncology. The treatment of cancer is a hotly debated and researched subject, so oncology nursing continuing education has to keep oncology nurses up to date on new treatment practices and discoveries in the field. Fortunately, oncology nurses can meet their continuing education requirements in a few different ways.
Through classes taken at their local college or university.
Through free or low-cost learning modules on the internet.
Through home study courses offered by in-state or out-of-state institutions.
Through continuing education programs offered by oncology organizations.
Why is Continuing Education for Oncology Nurses Necessary?
Every day, new cancer breakthroughs make headlines. Cancer pervades modern society, and many of the risk factors for it are unavoidable- sun exposure can cause melanoma, and being a woman is all you need to be at risk for breast cancer. As a result, cancer is heavily researched, and regularly results in new developments.
To help keep oncology nurses at the top of their game, organizations like the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation have developed ways to certify practicing oncology nurses, and create continuing educational requirements. These requirements are designed to keep oncology nurses well informed, and to keep their oncology skills sharp. Medicine changes quickly, so nurses that still rely on information from decades ago aren’t going to be able to provide the best care for their patients.
Registered Nursing versus Oncology Nursing Continuing Education
Registered nurses are required to go through continuing education programs in order to keep their licenses in good standing with their state’s Board of Nursing. Without meeting these continuing education requirements, registered nurses will lose their licenses, and no longer be able to legally practice until they have them reinstated.
All states have their own Boards of Nursing, and their own regulations regarding things like continuing education requirements and certification with the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation. In some states, membership with the ONCC is mandatory. In others, it is not. Certification with the ONCC helps nurses show that they are proficient in oncology, so it may be worth pursuing, even in states where it isn’t required. In order to maintain certification with the ONCC, nurses will have to follow their renewal guidelines. This includes any additional continuing education requirements that the ONCC has above and beyond the Board of Nursing’s requirements.
When it comes to the ONCC’s requirements, not just any continuing education program will do. Continuing education courses for oncology nurses must meet the approval of the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation, or be approved or provided by one of the organizations on their list of “Acceptable Approval Bodies” if it is going to count towards certification renewal for oncology nurses.
Will Continuing Education Advance My Nursing Degree?
Oncology nursing continuing education programs are not designed to help nurses advance their degrees, they are designed to keep their skill sets up to date with changes in the healthcare industry. In some situations, some nurses currently working and attending school may be able to kill two birds with one stone with regards to their continuing educational requirements, but this won’t be the case for the majority of oncology nurses.
If you are an oncology nurse and would like to advance your degree, then a master’s degree program, post master’s certificate program, or doctoral degree program are the only things that will actually allow you to do so. Continuing education just allows you to maintain your license and certification in good standing.
Is There a Way for Oncology Nurses to Avoid Needing Continuing Education?
The only way to avoid having to fulfill continuing education requirements for the ONCC is to not pursue certification through them. This may not be an option in some states, so oncology nurses will have to contact their Boards of Nursing to find out exactly what certifications are optional for them.
When it comes to continuing education for the Board of Nursing, nurses can get out of needing continuing education if they are newly licensed graduates, or are attempting to have their licensing status changed to “inactive.”
Oncology is a rapidly growing field that’s changing from day to day. Cancer nurses need oncology nurse continuing education to help keep them informed and abreast of all of the ways that new research is changing the face of cancer treatment.