Validating Oncology Nursing Knowledge and Experience Through ONCC Certification With Tony Ellis, MSEd, CAE, ICE-CCP

Recently, the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) unveiled its new logo, which embraces the diversity and the passion behind oncology nursing. In this interview, Tony Ellis, MSEd, CAE, ICE-CCP, the Executive Director of ONCC, shares the features of their recently rebranded website and the benefits of obtaining ONCC certification, as well as steps and tips for nurses who are interested in becoming certified.  

Oncology Data Advisor: Welcome to Oncology Data Advisor. Today, I’m joined by Tony Ellis, who is the Executive Director of the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation. Thanks so much for coming on today, Tony.

Tony Ellis, MSEd, CAE, ICE-CCP: Thanks for having me.

Oncology Data Advisor: So, to start off, what is the mission of ONCC?

Mr. Ellis: The primary purpose of ONCC is to promote health and safety by validating competence, knowledge, and experience, and by ensuring lifelong learning in oncology nursing and related specialties.

Oncology Data Advisor: At ONS Congress, ONCC unveiled its new logo. What does this design represent?

Mr. Ellis: Our new brand and brand story, is intended to embrace the passion and the purpose behind oncology nurses and the profession of oncology nursing. Our new visual look, especially our iconic “O”, or ring, with all of its vibrant colors, is intended to represent all the different colors that are used to represent the different cancers, as well as the diversity of the roles that oncology nurses and other care providers play in the care of patients with cancer. It also represents the diversity in our nursing community itself.

Oncology Data Advisor: Great. What is the benefit for nurses of becoming ONCC-certified?

Mr. Ellis: Certification through ONCC as an oncology-certified nurse or through one of our other certifications is voluntary. But what we find, and what we hope, is that nurses will seek this certification to validate their specialty knowledge and ability in the care of patients with cancer. By law, you are only required to have a registered nurse (RN) license. But it takes so much more to understand and be able to deliver top-quality, safe care to patients with cancer, especially with the pace of change and the treatment modalities and other aspects of cancer care. Studying and validating that experience, ability, and knowledge through certification really is paramount to provide the best care for patients.

Oncology Data Advisor: Definitely. For nurses who are interested, what are the steps for becoming certified?

Mr. Ellis: I think the first step is to take a look at our new, exciting website and the eligibility criteria for certification that they might be interested in, or that best suits their role in oncology care, and see what would be required to be able to sit for the exam and work towards that. Once that’s available or met, they can take a look at their timeline and see when they could sit for the exam, gather their materials for the application, and start preparing.

Most people prepare for at least three, if not six to nine, months before they sit for the exam, just to give themselves plenty of time to pace out their review and study of areas they might not be as familiar in before they turn in their application. Once your application is approved, you get a 90-day window authorization to test, to both schedule and sit for the exam. You want to make sure that they start studying before they turn in their application necessarily.

Oncology Data Advisor: Great. Anything else you’d like to mention for nurses who are considering becoming certified?

Mr. Ellis: So, I didn’t come from health care; I came from higher education. There are a lot of similarities between health care and higher education, actually. But I think one thing that’s the most similar in my 30-plus years of experience in certification is that nobody likes to take tests. There’s a high level of fear and concern about taking tests. Most of us haven’t taken a test in a very long time, unless you’re a brand-new nurse and you just finished the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) not long ago, and there’s a lot riding on it.

I think the best you can do is to set that aside and think of what’s in the best interest for you and your career, as well as for your patients and care they’re receiving. Go ahead and jump in, make a plan, start to study, and maybe even partner with your supervisor or a colleague for a study plan, and set a date. That’s the most important thing, because once you have that milestone, you’ll work towards it and achieve it.

Oncology Data Advisor: Awesome, that’s great to know. Thank you so much for coming on today and explaining all of this.

Mr. Ellis: Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

About Mr. Ellis

Tony Ellis, MSEd, CAE, ICE-CCP, is the Executive Director of the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation. He has worked in association management, including certification and professional development programming, for over 30 years. At ONCC, he ensures that programs maintain the highest standards for applicants, candidates, and certified nurses.

For More Information

Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (2023). Available at:

Transcript edited for clarity. Any views expressed above are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Oncology Data Advisor. 

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