Oncology Nursing Society Position on the Education of the Nurse Who Administers Chemotherapy and Biotherapy
Specialized education and preparation of the RN who administers chemotherapy and biotherapy can ensure a safe level of care for individuals receiving these agents. Chemotherapy and biotherapy educational programs offered by the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) include the Chemotherapy and Biotherapy Course, Treatment Basics Course, Chemotherapy and Biotherapy Renewal Course, Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs Course, Chemotherapy and Biotherapy Update, Chemotherapy and Biotherapy Trainer Course, and Treatment Basics Trainer Course. In addition, ONS provides up-to-date resources pertaining to new treatments using a variety of ongoing educational approaches. Guidelines and recommendations for oncology nurses providing chemotherapy and biotherapy are described in Chemotherapy and Biotherapy Guidelines and Recommendations for Practice (Polovich, Whitford, & Olsen, 2009) and the voluntary, consensus-based American Society of Clinical Oncology/ONS Chemotherapy Administration Safety Standards (Jacobson et al., 2009). These and other publications describe the basic clinical content necessary to provide didactic information regarding the safe and competent administration of cytotoxic and biologic drugs (Gullatte, 2007; Wilkes, 2011). Didactic learning must be followed by the successful completion of a clinical practicum under the auspices of an RN’s institution or supporting agency.
It Is the Position of ONS That
All introductory and annual competency reassessment programs developed for RNs administering chemotherapy and biotherapy include current and evidence-based content regarding:
- Principles of cancer chemotherapy and biotherapy.
- Types, classifications, and routes of administration of chemotherapy and biotherapy agents.
- Pharmacology of cytotoxic and immunologic agents in cancer care.
- Chemotherapy and biotherapy indications in cancer care.
- Molecular biomarkers pertinent to chemotherapy and biotherapy.
- Chemotherapy and radiotherapy protectants.
- Principles of safe preparation, storage, labeling, transportation, and disposal of chemotherapeutic and biologic agents.
- Appropriate use and disposal of personal protective equipment.
- Administration procedures, including administration schedule, dose, and route; patient consent; and appropriate documentation in the medical record.
- Process to ensure patient safety.
- Assessment, monitoring, and management of patients receiving chemotherapy and biotherapy in all care settings.
- Patient and family education on chemotherapy and biotherapy side effects and related symptom management, as well as appropriate documentation in the medical record.
- Assessment of, education on, and management of post-treatment care, including urgent follow-up care procedures, late or long-term side effects, and physical and psychosocial aspects of survivorship.
Gullatte, M.M. (Ed.). (2007). Clinical guide to antineoplastic therapy: A chemotherapy handbook (2nd ed.). Pittsburgh, PA: Oncology Nursing Society.
Jacobson, J.O., Polovich, M., McNiff, K.K., LeFebvre, K.B., Cummings, C., Galioto, M., . . . McCorkle, M.R. (2009). American Society of Clinical Oncology/Oncology Nursing Society chemotherapy administration safety standards. Oncology Nursing Forum, 36, 651–658. doi:10.1188/09.ONF.651-658
Polovich, M., Whitford, J., & Olsen, M. (Eds.). (2009). Chemotherapy and biotherapy guidelines and recommendations for practice (3rd ed.). Pittsburgh, PA: Oncology Nursing Society.
Wilkes, G.M. (2011). Targeted cancer therapy: A handbook for nurses. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
Approved by the ONS Board of Directors, 1992; revised 7/97, 6/99, 11/02, 7/05, 10/07, 1/11; reviewed 10/12.