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Systemic Therapy Certification Program

Helping Registered Nurses (RN's) provide comprehensive care to cancer patients receiving systemic therapy treatment.
The Systemic Therapy Certification Program strives to support RN’s in utilizing an evidence-based approach in the planning and provision of care to patients and their families receiving chemotherapy and biotherapy drugs (systemic therapy).

The education program, which reflects the Cancer Chemotherapy Nursing Standards and Competencies (2011) developed by the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology (CANO), is open to RN’s employed by BC Cancer and RN's from the Community Oncology Network (CON), in consultation with regional health authorities.

The program is comprised of four major components which are completed consecutively:

  1. Completion of a self directed theoretical component and an online, closed book, examination (pass mark 75%)
  2. Two 4 hour workshop sessions attended via videoconferencing
  3. 3 day clinical practicum
  4. Continuing competency process
How to apply
1. Satisfy the prerequisites
To be considered for this program, you must:

  • Be a licensed Registered Nurse practicing in British Columbia
  • Be supported in this application by your manager
  • Have opportunities to consolidate the initial learning experience after completing the clinical practicum
  • Administer at least 50 chemotherapy drugs per year in order to maintain competency
  • Commit to participate in continuing education directly related to the care of patients receiving chemotherapy
  • Have completed or plan to complete peripheral/central line certification prior to the practicum according to the requirements of his/her organization
2. Create a LearningHub account
If you do not already have a LearningHub account, please register online for one using your work email. Course correspondence and materials will be sent to this account.

3. Submit the application form(s)

BC Cancer Employees

If you are employed by BC Cancer, your manager submits the application form below. (Note: Payment is not required for BC Cancer employees.)

If you are external to BC Cancer (including the Community Oncology Network), your manager submits the application form below - in addition to the Course Payment ($50).
Course details

For answers to frequently asked questions, click "+" on the questions below.

Upon completion, participants will be able to:

  • Locate and utilize evidence based practice guidelines and organizational policies and procedures when caring for a patient receiving chemotherapy.
  • Apply the principles of adult learning in the provision of chemotherapy patient care and teaching.
  • Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the patient prior to initiating treatment with chemotherapy.
  • Complete an assessment of the patient’s laboratory findings which relate to the individual treatment protocol.
  • Provide the treatment related information necessary to enable the patient and their family to safely initiate appropriate self care strategies and to recognize when to contact the health care professional.
  • Demonstrate the infusion therapy skills (peripheral and central) necessary to safely administer chemotherapy.
  • Utilize various sources of evidence including organizational guidelines to assess and manage the side effects of chemotherapy treatment.
  • Describe the rationale for the use of pre-medications and safely administer oral and intravenous chemotherapy drugs using push, sidearm, and infusion methods.
  • Teach patients to safely manage continuous intravenous infusions utilizing elastomeric pumps and a central venous catheter.
  • Identify and safely manage acute local or systemic reactions including extravasation or anaphylaxis.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of safe handling practices by providing the patient/family with information related to managing biohazardous wastes and by safely storing, handling, transporting and disposing of chemotherapy drugs.
  • Document relevant patient data in the appropriate record.

The program is comprised of four major components which are completed consecutively:

  1. Completion of a self directed theoretical component and an online, closed book, examination (pass mark 75%)
  2. Two 4 hour workshop sessions attended via videoconferencing
  3. 3 day clinical practicum
  4. Continuing competency process
Theoretical Component
This component of the learning program engages the RN in learning activities which examine:

  • The Pathophysiology of Cancer
  • Cancer Diagnosis and Staging
  • The Science of Antineoplastic Drugs
  • The Science of Biological Therapies
  • The Science of Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • Administration of Antineoplastic Drugs and Biological Therapies
  • Systemic Side Effects of Chemotherapy
  • Long Term Effects/Organ Toxicities of Chemotherapy
  • Managing Immune Mediated Adverse Events
  • Safe Handling of Antineoplastic Drugs and Wastes
  • Patient Education
  • Ethics and Oncology Nursing Practice
  • Supporting Patients in Cancer Survivorship
Learning activities are varied and include online learning, reading, video clips, review questions, review of on-line resources, and reflection.

The workshop is delivered in two, 4 hour videolinked interactive sessions. The activities within these sessions encourage the RN learner to apply new knowledge to simulated clinical situations. Learning activities include discussion, reflection, and group work. Case studies are used to identify the essential elements of patient care.

Clinical Practicum
The three day clinical practicum is held in a chemotherapy care setting. We recommend that the clinical practicum be scheduled within one month following the completion of the workshop.  An experienced chemotherapy nurse preceptor is assigned to the RN learner to support the application of knowledge within the clinical setting. Learning tools such as a Practicum Guide have been developed to support both the RN learner and the preceptor during the clinical practicum.

The clinical practicum can be coordinated in the RN learners own oncology practice setting if the following criteria are met:

  • There are experienced preceptors who have completed the BC Cancer Chemotherapy and Biotherapy Education Program to mentor and support the learner
  • The preceptor is supernumerary
  • Patient care activities are sufficient in number and variation to enable the RN to meet the learning objectives
  • The organization has established chemotherapy policies and procedures
Evaluation is ongoing throughout the practicum and is based on clearly stated objectives. At the end of the practicum, the RN learner and the preceptor develop a learning plan to identify ongoing learning needs. This plan will be reviewed with the nurse manager once the RN learner commences practice within the clinical setting.

Note: If the practicum component cannot be done within the applicant’s workplace, please email us for assistance to link you with closest BC Cancer regional site program leaders to assist with your placement request (please note, requested workshop dates may need to change in order to accommodate practicum/preceptor availability).
The chemotherapy and biotherapy certified Registered Nurse (RN) is responsible for maintaining continuing competency in the care of patients receiving systemic therapy. This is demonstrated by:

  • BC Cancer strongly recommends that nurses should administer a minimum of at least 50 chemotherapy drugs per year and record this information on the Record of Exposure to Hazardous Drugs form.
  • Developing and following learning plans to apply and advance their knowledge and skills related to systemic therapy.
  • Seeking out professional development learning activities related to systemic therapy care and which inform and impact nursing practice.
  • Annually demonstrating continuing competency requirements have been met. If specified requirements are not met, the nurse must not administer chemotherapy or biotherapy until further discussion with their program leaders and/or Professional Practice Nursing at BC Cancer.
If you have further questions about the Chemotherapy Certification Program, please contact us by email.
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SOURCE: Systemic Therapy Certification Program ( )
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