The results of a multifaceted program at a comprehensive community cancer hospital demonstrated that “growing” the numbers of oncology certified nurses is a “win-win” situation for patients and physicians as well as a great sense of achievement and pride for the nurses.

Efforts to increase the number of nurses certified in oncology nursing and to improve the level of care for patients was the impetus for the multistaged approach taken at the Thomas Johns Cancer Center at Johnston-Willis, CJW Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia, Karen Roesser, RN, MS, AOCN®, reported at the Oncology Nursing Society 36th Annual Congress. Roesser explained that attaining certification in oncology nursing (OCN®) indicates a nurse has achieved a level of knowledge and expertise that leads to better patient care-related decisions.

Noting that all institutions strive to improve the quality of care provided to their patients, Roesser described the cancer center’s multifaceted program: (1) the seed regarding certification is planted when a nurse is interviewed for a job; (2) a focus is placed on the potential accomplishments expected; (3) a simple, but specific plan for studying/achieving a passing score is shown; (4) nurses are inspired to want to achieve a higher level; (5) the positives are continuously accentuated through encouragement; (6) certification is discussed at each evaluation and; 7) those nurses who achieve certification are recognized.

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Roesser said recognition includes a congratulations banner in the nurse’s station that is signed by all the nurses, the nurse’s achievement is recognized in the hospital newsletter, each nurse is acknowledged through a formal oncology recognition ceremony; in addition, each nurse and his or her accomplishments are highlighted on a revolving PowerPoint presentation on a television monitor in the lobby of the cancer center and an ONCC plaque with each nurse’s name is put up in the lobby. In the past 8 years, the percentage of certified nurses has increased from 26% to 54%, and the cancer center has been selected to be the “provider of choice” for oncologists who now only admit patients to Thomas Johns Cancer Center. In addition, the annual recognition program has become such a positive event, all of the nurses want to attend and be recognized, Roesser concluded.