While most nurse practitioners are certified in general areas, such as ‘Family Nurse Practitioner’ or ‘Adult Nurse Practitioner’, some NPs opt for more specialized training. If you have a specific area of clinical interest, obtaining a nurse practitioner subspecialty can give you the competitive advantage you need to pursue a career in your desired setting. While there aren’t many programs for NPs with an oncology bent, there are a few schools that offer the subspecialty.
The oncology nurse practitioner profession has seen a steady increase over the years as cancer treatment continues to evolve in its versatility. Oncology NPs serve as direct caregivers to cancer patients and specialize in cancer prevention and screening, delivering direct care to oncology patients in active treatment and remission, as well as participate in cancer research.
While nurse practitioners with general degrees are able to practice in the field, NPs have the option to officially specialize. This requires a nurse practitioner degree with oncology as a subspecialty or a post-master’s certificate from an accredited program. NPs who achieve this education designation may also wish to obtain certification from the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) to further set themselves apart in the specialty.
If you’re a nurse practitioner interested in specializing in oncology, check out the following universities that offer subspecialty programs.
Loyola University in Chicago’s Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP with Oncology Specialty program requires students to complete 56 -58 credit hours in a blended format of online and face-to-face classes. The university also offers an Oncology Nursing Certificate Program designed for advanced practice and BSN-prepared nurses, requiring only ten semester hours for completion.
The University of Pennsylvania offers both an Adult Oncology Specialty Minor/Post-Master’s Certificate and a one-of-a-kind concentration in pediatric oncology, which may also also be completed as a minor to the pediatric acute care NP program or as a post-Master’s certificate. Students enrolled full time can complete their oncology subspecialty in as little as one year.
UC San Francisco’s Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP- Oncology Focus program is designed for experienced oncology nurses. The curriculum consists of a combination of courses from the AG-ACNP track plus additional coursework in oncology nursing, genomics and older adult care. The school also offers a post-Master’s program which may be completed in four quarters; however online and distance learning options are not available in this option.
UAB offers an oncology subspecialty track for students enrolled in either the family nurse practitioner or adult-gerontology acute care specialties. Students are required to complete an additional 14 total credit hours and 500 clinical hours, which may be done via distance learning with minimal campus requirements.
Students of Columbia University’s Oncology Nurse Practitioner subspecialty can choose to focus in either adult or pediatric oncology. Both concentrations require an additional eight hours for completion. Students have the option for clinical placement in an oncology setting. The oncology subspecialties are also available as a non-degree program to applicants who have completed a master’s or doctoral degree as an APRN.
Offered as both a subspecialty and a post-Master’s certificate, students of Duke’s oncology program are required to complete 9 credit hours and 224 clinical hours. The program offers students the unique opportunity to complete the clinical portion at the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center, ranked as the best cancer center in the southeast. The core curriculum includes three specific oncology courses, of which the sequence begins in the fall semester only.
The adult oncology concentration at Yale is open to all students enrolled in an adult advanced practice nursing program at the university. Students are required to complete didactic courses and obtain clinical experience in oncology. Yale does not currently offer a post-Master’s option in oncology for advanced nurses.
Once you have completed your accredited oncology subspecialty program, you will be eligible to sit for the exam to become an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner.