Twice a month, I lead a support group for folks with advanced cancer.
Our discussions focus on living with cancer despite an uncertain future. Recently the conversation shifted toward what purchases should and shouldn’t be made. One person has a very old car, but she wasn’t certain if a new car would be a prudent purchase, given her prognosis. Another person needed a new winter coat and decided she would get the best one she could afford. It was interesting to listen to how decisions are made when the variables of a short life span or expensive treatments are included. They humorously called it the “return on investment” discussion.
As I listened to this meaningful conversation, I realized that although I couldn’t change the financial circumstances of these patients, I could ensure that the individuals who I care for receive the best support and care possible. One way to do that is to invest in myself as an oncology nurse. We can invest in ourselves and our patients by keeping current and providing the best evidence-based care possible. Reading journal articles, using Putting Evidence Into Practice (PEP) resources, and attending conferences are some ways to ensure that you have knowledge necessary to provide quality care in our world of rapidly advancing treatments. We can learn to advocate for funding for cancer research and realistic treatment costs. Your ONS membership provides these resources, including about 30 free continuing education contact hours per year.
We can also invest in each other as we mentor new nurses, take action to counter workplace incivility, and pause to listen to and support our colleagues. At ONS, we invest in oncology nurses by advocating for the profession and providing the resources needed to deliver quality cancer care. We set guidelines for safe workplace environments and offer mentoring programs.
As we start this new year, I encourage you to consider how you will invest in your oncology nursing career. Choose a class to take, resolve to read one additional article a month, or mentor a new nurse. I am certain that the return on investment will be worthwhile for you and the individuals you care for.