Because of print production schedules, I prepared this article before the COVID-19 coronavirus arrived in the United States. The message would be different today: As you support your patients during the pandemic, know that ONS cares for you and has resources for you on our website and communities. We appreciate your leadership in providing quality cancer care every day. Thank you for all you do.
The older I get, the more I recognize the influence of leaders in my life, especially the early ones who helped to shape the person that I’ve become. I credit my dad for encouraging me to get involved, to study hard, and to not be afraid to stand up in front of a group of people and tell my story. I have a clear memory of a fourth-grade oral report that required some research. Dad took me to the main library in town (as opposed to our local bookmobile) and helped me find resources on Louis Braille. He coached me as I presented my report and deliberately listened from another room (“I can’t hear you!”). He encouraged me to show others what I was trying to convey by writing out my name in Braille on the chalkboard and to encourage my classmates to practice as well. He set me up for a lifetime of leadership and teaching.
As I reflect back on my journey over the past two years as the ONS president, I am conscious of the many ways that I have had a chance to grow as a leader through the people that I’ve met, the diverse forums and meetings that I’ve attended, and the plans that I’ve developed with volunteer and staff leaders. I had the opportunity to share my voice and represent more than 100,000 practicing oncology nurses in this country during meetings with national and international leaders. I’ve been thrilled to advocate on your behalf with members of Congress through multiple visits to Capitol Hill and ONS-sponsored congressional briefings.
I had the opportunity to focus on my passion—supporting new nurse leaders. I led the ONS Board in several initiatives, including envisioning oncology nursing in 2029 and creating a three-year plan to build enduring resources for leadership development. I hope that those efforts are a part of my legacy as ONS president and, to paraphrase Lin Manuel Miranda in the musical Hamilton, are seeds in a garden that will grow well into the future.
The future of ONS is in great hands with your new ONS president, Nancy Houlihan, MA, RN, AOCN®. Nancy brings experience from a lifelong career steeped in evidence-based oncology nursing practice. As a long-serving ONS member at the chapter level and in national ONS activities, Nancy is a proven leader who will continue to cultivate the rich garden I have had the privilege and honor to tend over the past two years.
One of my dad’s favorite expressions was “and that’s all she wrote.” Thank you for reading my contributions to this leadership column. I plan to stay connected to the ONS Board by looking for these updates in ONS Voice, and I hope you will too.