Updated Scope and Standards Represent Key Foci of Oncology Nursing Practice

April 26, 2019 by Elisa Becze BA, ELS, Editor
To ensure that the Oncology Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice are consistent with overall nursing standards and to increase the visibility of the oncology nursing standards in the greater nursing and healthcare communities, ONS released an updated version of its reference book in March 2019. The American Nurses Association (ANA) recognizes oncology nursing as a nursing specialty, and the new edition carries ANA’s approval of the oncology nursing scope of practice and acknowledgement of the oncology n

To ensure that the Oncology Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice are consistent with overall nursing standards and to increase the visibility of the oncology nursing standards in the greater nursing and healthcare communities, ONS released an updated version of its reference book in March 2019.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) recognizes oncology nursing as a nursing specialty, and the new edition carries ANA’s approval of the oncology nursing scope of practice and acknowledgement of the oncology nursing standards of practice.

Based on current literature and input from oncology nurses, the new version reflects the current state of oncology nursing and provides standards for practice.

Of note is the addition of an ONS Board of Directors-approved definition of oncology nursing: “a nursing specialty that seeks to reduce the risks, incidence, and burden of cancer by encouraging healthy lifestyles, promoting early detection, and improving the management of cancer symptoms and side effects throughout the disease trajectory. Oncology nurses advocate for people at risk for or with a diagnosis of cancer, coordinate care delivery, ensure safe delivery of cancer treatments, help manage symptoms, optimize quality of life, support people with cancer and their caregivers, advocate for the unique needs of people with cancer, and collaborate with the interprofessional team to improve outcomes and reduce the impact of cancer on people, families, communities, and populations.”

Since it was last published in 2013, the book’s major updates involve replacing the original 14 high-incidence problem areas with 15 areas of focus identified in the test content outlines for the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation certification tests at the RN and advanced practice levels. The new focus areas reflect current data on key issues in oncology nursing: 

Competency statements for each standard are a combination of the measurement criteria from the 2013 scope and standards, current competencies from ANA’s Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, and recommendations from content experts provided during the competency statement development process. Edits primarily reflect current trends in cancer care, cancer nursing, and nursing terminology. 

Other updates were made to meet ANA requirements that the document differentiates between RN, graduate-level prepared RN, and advanced practice RN roles. The scope section now addresses the educational preparation for each role, from entry into practice to additional professional development, and the standards of practice and professional performance differentiate the competencies for each as well. 

Additional changes include expanded historical perspectives of oncology nursing content, a new section providing examples of how each ANA Code of Ethics provision is reflected in oncology nursing practice, and additional competencies for a new standard related to culturally competent care. 

Oncology Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice can be used to develop position descriptions, performance appraisals, institutional policies and procedures, continuing education needs, topics for quality improvement processes, and research to validate oncology nursing practice outcomes. Learn more at ONS.org.


Copyright © 2019 by the Oncology Nursing Society. User has permission to print one copy for personal or unit-based educational use. Contact pubpermissions@ons.org for quantity reprints.