Get to know Julie Painter, MSN, RN, AOCNS®, OCN®, director-at-large on the ONS Board of Directors from 2017–2020. Julie is a clinical nurse specialist/nurse practitioner at the Community Hospital of Indianapolis in Indiana.
How long have you been a nurse?
I have been an RN since 1980.
What led you to oncology nursing?
My passion for oncology began when I was a nursing student working part-time on a unit that had patients with cancer and behavioral care patients. The unit in itself was unique, but what I saw was the nurses practicing compassion, passion, and art of nursing every day, teaching me what it meant to take care of patients with cancer: how to talk with them, care for them, and know their individual needs. Also, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross had just published her book on the stages of dying; I was intrigued by her insight and her writings. It made me curious as to why we were not doing more to learn about cancer, cancer care, and particularly symptom management and end-of-life care.
What was your first experience with ONS?
The director/clinical nurse specialist for the inpatient oncology unit where I began my career, Kathy Thaney, had come from the East Coast to open up the first inpatient oncology unit in Indiana. She introduced us all to ONS and explained that it was a powerful organization that we all needed to be a part of it to shape the future of oncology nursing and care.
What role has ONS served in your career?
I cannot even begin to share how ONS has helped formulate me as a nurse, a professional, and an integral part of cancer care. It started with the opportunity to present and be a part of the Congress Committee in 1991. Since then, ONS has given me opportunities to present, teach, develop educational programming, plan, and, most of all, work with colleagues from around the nation. My network of colleagues has been the most powerful part of my ONS journey.
What relationships or connections have you made through ONS that you wouldn’t have found otherwise?
Beyond measure, I have a vast network of colleagues nationally, many of whom I speak with often, and others I contact when working on evidence-based projects and program development. The connections are life long, and they have changed me as a person and as a nurse. It’s truly helped me develop as a leader and afforded me opportunities within my institution and nationally.
How did you get involved in ONS leadership?
After attending my first Congress, I came home with a passion to be a part of ONS. As a very young nurse, I then became one of the founding members of the Central Indiana ONS Chapter and held numerous roles at the local level. Then, I became involved nationally, first as a member of the Congress Committee and then as planning team chair for ONS Congress in Philadelphia in 1996. From there, I had roles on the ONS Nominating Committee, ONCC Nominating Committee, and now as director-at-large on the ONS Board of Directors.
What has been your proudest moment as an oncology nurse?
There are far too many to choose just one! Some that come to mind are the founding of the Central Indiana ONS Chapter, serving as the Congress planning team chair in 1996, and definitely getting my first OCN® certification.
What is your biggest challenge in oncology nursing today, and how can ONS help?
It’s always challenging to keep up to date on all the news and information and then being able to disseminate it in a user-friendly way. The growth of oncology and the ability to help nurses stay current and passionate about oncology is a daily challenge.
What word would you say describes you?
What do you enjoy doing outside of nursing and why?
I love being a “Meemaw” to my two grandchildren. Nothing brings more joy than time with them. I also love gardening, especially growing roses and hydrangeas; visiting antique sales; and going hiking or camping.