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Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON)


The ONCC (Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation) is a non-profit, independently administered organization dedicated to promoting excellence in the field of oncology nursing by providing standard certification paths for professionals in the field. An outgrowth of the Oncology Nursing Society, the ONCC was incorporated in 1984 to address a growing need for specialty nursing certification. Beginning with its flagship OCN (Oncology Certified Nursing) certification exam which was first given in 1986, the ONCC soon began offering specialty certifications within the oncology field. Beginning in 1999, the ONCC began certifying pediatric oncology nurses through the CPON (Certified Pediatric Oncology Nurse) exam. [1] Based upon the evolving roles of pediatric oncology nurses, ONCC introduced the advanced specialty CPHON (Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse) exam in 2010 to replace the CPON credential. 519 candidates took the exam that first year, and 374 (72%) passed.[2] The current exam content is covers the basic roles and responsibilities of the pediatric hematology/ oncology nurse as determined through up-to-date job task analysis studies.[3] As of December, 2014, ONCC had certified 1,748 CPHONs.[4]

Function of the Test

CPHON Study Guide

A pediatric hematology/oncology nurse is an RN who specializes in providing nursing care to children and youth who have been diagnosed with blood diseases and cancer.[5] To sit for the exam, a candidate must hold a valid and unencumbered registered nursing (RN) license in the US, its territories, or Canada and demonstrate completion of the following experiential and didactic requirements:

  • At least 1 year experience as an RN within the 3 years preceding the date of application,
  • At least 1,000 hours pediatric oncology and/or hematology nursing experience within the 30 months preceding application, and
  • Education and training in oncology and hematology nursing consisting of either 10 or more accredited continuing education hours or an academic hematology/oncology nursing course within 3 years preceding application.[6]

Candidates who pass the CPHON exam are eligible to use the CPHON designation, which identifies them as respected experts in the field of pediatric hematology/oncology nursing.[7] CPHONs often work as staff nurses in hospitals and treatment centers, though some work as advanced nurse practitioners, nursing managers, or educators in these settings and in private practice.[8] The Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON) recommends that all nurses interested in this specialty seek and obtain certification.[9] CPHON-credentialed pediatric hematology/oncology nurses have greater earning power than those who only have an RN, with an average annual salary of $79,000.[10]

Test Administration

CPHON Flashcards

First-time candidates must apply using ONCC’s online application process, unless the application is one of a group of applications being submitted by an employer on behalf of employees. Paper applications are accepted for group submissions, certification renewals, and for those who did not pass a prior attempt. Domestic applicants (United States and Canada) pay $406 to take the exam; ONS/APHON members pay only $286. A $101 discount is available for senior citizens. A $75 surcharge is added to exam fees for test locations outside the US and Canada.[11] The exam is available February 2 – December 31 in the US and Canada, and during the month of November at international locations. Domestic applications can be made on a rolling basis with no deadline. Applications for international testing sites must be made no later than 3 months before the beginning of the November testing cycle.[12] Once a candidate receives an authorization to test (ATT) notice from ONCC, the exam may be scheduled directly within 90 days at a nearby Pearson VUE computer testing center.[13] Testing centers will accommodate candidates with disabilities covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) who submit requests within 5 days of applying to take the exam. Accommodations are limited to computer-based testing, and require signed evaluation by an appropriate health care provider. Additional documentation may be requested as needed to evaluate the request.[14] Candidates who do not pass the exam may retest as many times as desired. A one-year waiting period is required for any candidate who wishes to retest after three unsuccessful attempts, unless those three attempts accrued over a period of more than three years. Candidates who wish to retest must submit a new application form with applicable fees.[15]

Test Format

Sections of the CPHON Test
CPHON Test Subject Areas Percent
Psychosocial Dimensions of Care 9%
Disease Related Biology 12%
Treatment 22%
Supportive Care and Symptom Management 20%
Pediatric Oncologic and Hematologic Emergencies 14%
Supportive Care and Symptom Management 20%
Total 150

Test Structure

The CPHON contains 165 multiple choice questions that cover 9 major topics: Psychosocial Dimensions of Care; Disease Related Biology; Treatment; Supportive Care and Symptom Management; Pediatric Oncologic and Hematologic Emergencies; Health Maintenance and Survivorship; Palliative and End-of-Life Care; and Professional Performance.[16]

Test Environment

Testing for the CPHON takes place at Pearson VUE testing centers. There, candidates are expected to arrive at least fifteen minutes early, and present two forms of identification. Both forms need to contain a signature, be valid, and one must be government issued. Both forms must include a signature as well. Personal items such as bags, phones, electronics, notes, and pens are not allowed in the testing room. They must be stored in a secure area provided by the testing center, or be stored back in the test-taker's vehicle.[17]

Sample Questions


The exam consists of multiple forms which contain questions of varying difficulty drawn from a standard pool of test questions. Due to variances between forms, raw scores are equated across multiple forms to derive the passing score. Official score reports are provided to candidates by the testing center immediately on completion of the exam. The score reports show a candidate’s performance in each subject area on the exam and provide the overall pass/fail status, but do not display the actual score obtained on the exam or comparisons with other candidates. Performance information is intended to help candidates determine areas which need improvement to guide their focus for continuing education or, if they did not pass the exam, for further study before attempting to take the exam again.[18] First time candidates generally perform well on the exam. In 2014, of 386 RNs that took the exam for the first time, 73% (282) achieved a passing score. Over half (59%) of repeat test-takers also passed the exam.[19]

Recent/Future Developments

For a limited time, ONCC offers a 50% discount for CPON certified nurses who wish to take the CPHON exam. Discounts must be requested via a paper application. Current offers are available on the ONCC Web site.[20]


  1. ^ About ONCC July 30, 2015
  2. ^ About ONCC July 30, 2015
  3. ^ 2015 Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON) Test Candidate Handbook July 31, 2015
  4. ^ Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation 2014 Exam Statistics July 30, 2015
  5. ^ The Rewards and Challenges of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nursing July 25, 2015
  6. ^ Testing and Renewal July 30, 2015
  7. ^ Certified Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurse – CPHON July 25, 2015
  8. ^ Career Center – Specialties July 25, 2015
  9. ^ The Rewards and Challenges of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nursing July 25, 2015
  10. ^ What is an Average Pediatric Oncology Nursing Salary? July 25, 2015
  11. ^ 2015 CPHON Certification Test Application July 30, 2015
  12. ^ Testing Dates, Application Deadlines, and Fees July 30, 2015
  13. ^ 2015 Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON) Test Candidate Handbook July 31, 2015
  14. ^ Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation Special Accommodations Request Form July 30, 2015
  15. ^ 2015 Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON) Test Candidate Handbook July 31, 2015
  16. ^ CPHON blueprints 10 August 2015
  17. ^ CPHON Handbook 10 August 2015
  18. ^ Testing and Renewal July 30, 2015
  19. ^ Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation 2014 Exam Statistics July 30, 2015
  20. ^ Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON) July 30, 2015