Susan Schneider PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN
Susan Schneider PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN

At the end of July, Pittsburgh was full of energy and excitement as more than 400 oncology nurses attended Leadership Weekend. The experience is designed for ONS Chapter and Community leaders, as well as Board members of all three corporations and our Leadership Development Committee, to share ideas and learn leadership skills. 

A major focus of this year’s meeting was leadership development. For the past 40 years, our organization has had a rich history of growing leaders through various programs and volunteer opportunities. The governance changes that ONS members approved through the bylaws vote are allowing us to design leadership resources to support members with local and national leadership roles in ONS and in other arenas. 

Leadership skills can be beneficial for ONS, for patients, for places of employment, and also for individual nurses themselves. Many nurses don’t realize that the skills they develop in ONS volunteer roles can be mutually beneficial for their places of employment (and vice versa). For example, my role as an APN provided me with valuable insights for helping plan a national ONS conference. Skills that I’ve learned as an ONS Chapter leader and Board member have helped me to advocate for regulation that promotes safe handling of chemotherapy in the workplace. 

ONS believes that every nurse is a leader. Successful leaders aren’t born; they are developed. A key to developing leaders is to start with interested people and then build teams that can think strategically to advance oncology nursing excellence. Note: first and foremost, you start with people who will invest in themselves and make the commitment. 

ONS is a rich source of talented people. Many of the characteristics that serve you well as an oncology nurse (dedication, finding ways to improve care, willingness to challenge the status quo, working in teams, and providing support) are the same qualities that can serve you well as an ONS leader. Leadership is an appreciation of the skills that each of those people bring to the table. A successful leadership group needs spokespeople, risk takers, critical thinkers, planners, and implementers. No one person is proficient in all these things. People who are open to invest in themselves and learn are able to come together as a team, sharing their talents to think strategically, accomplish organizational goals, and support one another. There is a role for you! 

I encourage you to get involved in a leadership role in ONS. You can learn as you go. This webpage is an excellent resource: www.ons.org/membership/become-leader. Our Leadership Development Committee has resources to help you develop skills. We can match you with mentors or help you to identify roles for your talents and expertise. I guarantee the experience will enhance your skills in the workplace and lead to personal and professional growth. Next year, it would be great to see you at Leadership Weekend! 

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