Evolving a blueprint for certification: the responsibilities and knowledge comprising American professional oncology nursing practice

Oncol Nurs Forum. 1992 Jun;19(5):745-59.


Ensuring adequate content validity of a certification examination is a major concern in the development and administration of a test. To establish content validity of the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) certification exam, a job analysis study was conducted to provide empirical data about the responsibilities and knowledge areas required for practice at the level of the newly certified oncology nurse. The study involved The Profession of Oncology Nursing: An Inventory of Responsibilities and Knowledge (IRKPON), a questionnaire that was developed based on a review of the literature, professional practice information, interviews with oncology nurses, the original ONCC certification exam table of specifications, and evaluations undertaken by two advisory committees. The IRKPON consisted of three parts: 56 responsibilities clustered into eight job dimensions, 217 knowledge areas grouped into seven knowledge dimensions, and demographic information. The IRKPON was sent to a stratified random sample of 3,000 oncology nurses in the United States, who were asked to rate both the responsibilities and knowledge areas by level of importance. The 1,297 (43%) responding nurses rated 45 of 56 responsibilities (80.4%) as "very important" and 8 of 56 responsibilities (14.3%) as "extremely important"; they also rated 163 of 217 knowledge areas (75.1%) as "very important" and 41 of 217 knowledge areas (18.9%) as "extremely important." These findings identified the specific responsibilities most important to the oncology nurse role at the level of the newly certified nurse, as well as the knowledge areas necessary for competent performance. Subsequent ONCC certification examinations were modified; the test blueprint that guides the construction of the examination was revised, and the passing score was adjusted.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Certification / organization & administration
  • Certification / standards*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Educational Measurement
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oncology Nursing / standards*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States