Resources for Oncology Advanced Practice RNs

Resources for Oncology Advanced Practice RNs

Advanced practice RNs (APRNs) in oncology provide leadership to improve outcomes for patients with cancer and their families by increasing healthcare access, promoting clinical excellence, improving patients’ quality of life, documenting patient outcomes, and increasing the cost effectiveness of care. APRN practice in oncology includes clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), nurse practitioners (NPs), and dually prepared (CNS and NP) nurses who are prepared at the graduate level (i.e., master's or doctorate) with a specialty focus in oncology practice.

Role Delineation Study

The most recent role delineation studies (RDSs) for Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioners and the Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialists were conducted in 2013. The purpose of the RDSs was to provide updated and detailed analyses of the job-related competencies of the AOCNP® and AOCNS® for consideration in future planning related to certification programs.

Core Competencies

The Oncology Nurse Practitioner Core Competencies and Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist Core Competencies outline entry-level competencies for APRNs practicing in the oncology NP and CNS roles. They can be used to review and further understand these roles. The competencies are currently undergoing revision in 2017.

Position Statement

Position on the Role of the Advanced Practice Nurse in Oncology Care

APRNs have advanced clinical knowledge and skills preparing them to provide direct and indirect care to patients. APRNs have greater autonomy in their practice and are able to assume responsibility and accountability for health promotion and maintenance, as well as the assessment, diagnosis, and management of patient concerns. Research substantiates the positive impact of APRNs. Significant outcomes include increased access to care and patient education; improved patient satisfaction, cost effectiveness, and patient compliance; fewer hospital admissions; and decreased lengths of stay, readmission rates, emergency care visits, and healthcare cost. Read more about this position statement.


The ONS Communities offer a place for oncology APRNs to network, share best practices, discuss ongoing APRN legislation and practice issues, and provide guidance to other APRNs or graduate nursing students interested in an APRN role.


The second edition of the Advanced Oncology Nursing Certification Review and Resource Manual (2016) is a study guide and clinical resource for new and experienced APRNs. It offers comprehensive preparation for advanced oncology certification tests (AOCNP® and AOCNS®) as well as reference for everyday practice. Also included are key takeaway points, recommended resources for oncology APRNs, and sample certification test questions.

The third edition of the Clinical Manual for the Oncology Advanced Practice Nurse (2014) is a quick-reference guide addressing the clinical challenges often arising in patients with cancer. Key topics include symptom and side-effect intervention, current treatment strategies, and site-specific cancer information. APRNs can use the extensive appendices and easy-to-follow outline format for quick reference in complex practice settings.


ONS Online Courses for Advanced Practice Providers New to Oncology

The Post-Master’s Foundation in Cancer Care course and the Post-Master’s Foundation in Hematology course are designed to provide NPs, CNSs, and physician assistants who have limited or no oncology experience with core knowledge needed when working with patients with cancer and hematologic disorders. Although the content of the courses reflects the categories in the AOCNP® and AOCNS® certification test content outlines, information is also included specific to physician assistant practice and covers the content at a greater depth for practitioners new to oncology.  

ONS Online Courses for APRNs With Oncology Experience

A series of five online courses are designed for APRNs who are already proficient in oncology knowledge and care. The Prevention and Diagnosis–Oncology APN, Treatment–Oncology APN, Symptom Management–Oncology APN, Quality of Life Issues–Oncology APN, Professional Practice–Oncology CNS, and Professional Practice–Oncology NP courses offer a chance to review critical practice issues or prepare for the AOCNS® and AOCNS® certification examinations. The courses can be taken individually, or in a bundle. The AOCNP® Certification Review Bundle and the AOCNS® Certification Review Bundle options include a bank of practice test questions.