Congress is full of opportunities to learn, explore new advancements in oncology, listen to experts in the field, and meet with numerous like-minded colleagues from across the country. For some oncology nurses, Congress is a place to teach as well. This was the case with ONS member Yvette Rosa, BS, OCN®, of St. Anne’s Regional Cancer Center Fall River, MA, when her group’s abstract submission was selected to become a podium presentation. In the blink of an eye, Rosa found herself and her group members preparing to take the stage.

Rosa and her coauthors, Susan P. O’Brien, CNP, and Helena C. Viveiros, RN, BSN, OCN®, initially submitted their presentation, Taking It Head On: An Oncology Nurse-Led Team Approach to Decrease Treatment Delays and Hospitalizations in Head and Neck Cancer Patients, with hopes of inclusion in the poster sessions at Congress. 

According to Rosa, it started in the same way many submissions for Congress probably start—doubt. “Never in a million years did I even consider submitting anything to ONS for presentation,” Rosa said. “Personally, I was of the mindset that Congress presentations were something people in the academic world did—not staff nurses that work in clinics.”

However, her colleagues were well aware of the great work the team had been doing. “We were encouraged by our nursing managers to submit the project once they saw how much of an impact it had on patient outcomes,” Rosa explained.

The project, which Rosa and her colleagues had been working on for more than a year, started with a simple chat. “Helena and I were having a conversation one day, both of us worrying about issues that were preventing our patients from successfully completing their treatment,” Rosa recalled. “We decided to figure out why so many of our patients were landing in the hospital and having treatment interruption—or not completing treatment at all—and if there was anything we could do to reverse these issues.”

When Rosa was informed that their abstract had been selected for a podium presentation, she and her team were in disbelief. “Initially, we were shocked,” Rosa said. “We were just praying we could possibly be picked for a poster. When we were notified that we’d been picked for a podium session, we could not believe it. The pride was something you can’t even explain. Having this type of acknowledgement was incredible.”  

At Congress, Rosa and her team presented to an excited audience. “It was awesome,” Rosa said. “We were so well received. After our presentation we were inundated with people who had questions and wanted information on what we had done to help our patients get through treatment.” 

Rosa noted that there’s always going to be self-doubt when submitting an abstract for review, but it’s important not to let that hold you back. You never know where your hard work can take you. 

“This podium session gave our small community hospital staff the opportunity to share our experiences with nurses on a national level. It helped validate that nurses are eager to improve their clinical practice in an effort to improve patient outcomes,” Rosa said. “If you have a practice change idea, discuss it with your team members and consider submitting it to ONS Congress so that you can share your experiences with other members.  You don’t have to be a research center to submit practice changes that have improved your patient care.”

Abstract submissions are now open for the 42nd Annual Congress in Denver, CO. Consider submitting your team’s project. The deadline for submissions is September 30, 2016.