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Cancer Systemic Therapy Certification Course

Cancer systemic therapy is an umbrella term for the types of drug treatments that are sometimes prescribed to address certain diagnoses of cancer.  They work throughout the entire body or “system”, travelling throughout the body via the blood to cure, manage, or palliate a patient’s cancer.   Chemotherapy (or “chemo”), hormonal therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy are all types of medications that can inhibit the growth of, or destroy cancer cells.   At Nova Scotia Health, cancer systemic therapy is provided to patients in our cancer centers, as well as our regional facilities.

Administration of cancer systemic therapy is a high-risk, complex treatment and is a beyond entry level competency (ELC) for Registered Nurses (RNs).  As such, in order to safely and competently administer systemic therapy, RNs need additional education to meet the knowledge, skills, and performance requirements for this clinical competency to practice safely in oncology practice settings.  Building on the de Souza Institute’s Provincial Standardized Chemotherapy and Biotherapy Course (PSCB), Nova Scotia Health Cancer Care Program in collaboration with the Registered Nurses Professional Development Centre (RNPDC) has incorporated Nova Scotia specific treatment and practice guidance for Registered Nurses working in systemic therapy treatment areas, to offer a Cancer Systemic Therapy Certification Course (CSTCC) tailored to the needs of oncology nurses in Nova Scotia.  This performance based CSTCC is designed to meet learning needs of Registered Nurses to safely administer and respond to the complex care needs of cancer patients and their families. 

This certification course is comprised of the following components:

  • Knowledge: online, independent, interactive learning modules and final exam in collaboration with the de Souza Institute’s Provincial Standardized Chemotherapy and Biotherapy (PSCB) course
  • Skills:  In-person skills and simulation day with RNPDC faculty
  • Performance: Integrated clinical preceptorship throughout CSTCC

At the completion of the CSTCC, Registered Nurses will be competent in the administration of cancer systemic therapy and able to provide safe and effective interventions to cancer patients and their families.

Pre-requisites to being accepted into this program include:

  • Must be a RN working in a systemic therapy treatment area
  • Be supported by your manager

The online portion of the course will take approximately 35 hours to complete. You will also require time to complete the final assignment and exam, skills and simulation day, and preceptorship. This time will be arranged in consultation with your manager/CNE.

By providing approval for the course, the Manager is agreeing to:

  • Support the time required to complete the online learning requirements
  • Support the employee to travel to the skills and simulation day in Halifax (for learners outside of CZ)
  • Support the time required for clinical preceptorship
  • Provide support to the RN to consolidate and transition their learnings into independent practice
  • Provide opportunities for the RN to administer cancer systemic therapy drugs to maintain competence
  • Support the RN to participate in continuing education related to cancer systemic therapy

Cohort Options:

Full-Time, 6 weeks

Week 1-4 Self-directed online learning: Esitmated at 1 day per week of dedicated education time to complete online, independent learning modules (35 hours)
Week 5 In-Person Skills and Simulation day (7.5hrs)
Week 6 Virtual Online Final Exam: 2 hr with proctor
Preceptorship Clinical Practice: Integrated clinical preceptorship throughout; Minimum 3 shifts

Part-Time, 11 weeks

Week 1-9 Self-directed online learning: Estimated at 1 day biweekly dedicated education time to complete online, independent learning modules (35 hrs)
Week 10 In Person Skills and Simulation day (7.5 hrs)
Week 11 Virtual Online Final Exam - 2 hrs with proctor
Preceptorship Clinical Practice: Integrated clinical preceptorship throughout; Minimum 3 shifts

Upcoming full-time offerings:

  • October 11 - November 19, 2021; Registration deadline September 27, 2021
    • ​Skills and Simulation day November 10th
  • November 8 - December 17, 2021; Registration deadline October 20, 2021
    • Skills and Simulation day December 8th
  • January 10 - February 18, 2022; Registration deadline December 15, 2021
    • ​Skills and Simulation day February 10th
  • March 7 - April 15, 2022; Registration deadline February 16, 2022
    • Skills and Simulation day April 6th
  • May 16 - June 24, 2022; Registration deadline April 27, 2022
    • Skills and Simulation day June 16th 

Upcoming part-time offerings:
*Part-time offering dates may be subject to change based on the de Souza Institute's course calendar

  • September 13 November 26, 2021; In session
    • Skills and Simulation day November 9th
  • January 10 - March 28, 2022; Registration deadline December 13, 2021
    • Skills and Simulation day March 7th
  • April 4 - June 20, 2022; Registration deadline March 16, 2022
    • Skills and Simulation day June 10th 

Dates are subject to change, if you miss the deadline date please contact the RNPDC.

Contact Information:

            Email: RNPDC@nshealth.ca

Program Costs:

  • Access code for de Souza Institute’s PSCB will be provided upon registration to the CSTCC.
  • No additional expenses (E.g.; textbooks, academic fees, etc.)