Kansas ONS Chapters Advocate for Health Policy With Federal and State Leaders
Over the summer, I coordinated a now all-too-familiar exercise: a Zoom call with multiple ONS Kansas-area chapter members, nurse experts, patient advocates, and elected officials. Spearheaded by the ONS National Office, we hosted an incredibly personal and informative conversation to discuss the COVID-19 coronavirus, how it affects patients with cancer, and the legislative and regulatory environment throughout our state. Our bipartisan, multitiered event brought together oncology nurses from across the state, and, although some political views were different, we united in our commitment to nurses and public health.
ONS Calls for Action to Support the Nurse’s Role in Reducing the Global Burden of Cancer
Nurses serve a critical and proven role in reducing the burden of cancer and improving the lives of patients with cancer. Yet, for millions of people across the globe, access to health care is not a given, and nurses don’t have the educational and occupational support to perform to their full abilities.
100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage Reminds Us of the Power of Our Vote
The revolutionary declaration written 244 years ago, proclaiming that “all men are created equal,” maintains that a true democracy must be based on an individual’s right to vote and the freedom to exercise that power at the ballot box. Since 1998, women voters have embodied that concept, achieving a majority vote with higher rates than men. Of registered women voters, 55% went to the polls in 2018, compared to only 51% of registered men. Yet today women account for only 23.2% of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 26% of the U.S. Senate.
The Public Trusts Nurses’ Voices During Health Emergencies
The cacophony that echoes through the 24-hour news cycle can be heavy on an average day but overwhelming during a global health pandemic. That is why relying on a trusted voice is essential when attempting to understand how to deal with the voluminous information that bombards us through radio, television, emails, social media, and any other channels that deem themselves news outlets these days.
Word Choice Matters When Caring for Patients With Cancer
Oncology nurses use many tools to help our patients, but one of the most effective is our words. However, our terminology may be overwhelming to patients and feel like medical jargon. We also often use terms to describe how a patient is experiencing cancer, reporting adverse events, noncompliance, failing treatment, and palliative care, which can be confusing and misleading.
Nurses Are Leading Change and Advancing Health With Lean Methodology
Strong leadership is critical in redesigning health care—and nurse leaders in particular need to take responsibility for identifying problems and areas of waste, devising and implementing a plan for improvement, tracking this improvement over time, and making necessary adjustments to realize established goals.
Did COVID-19 Transform Traditional American Politics?
Mastering the rules and regulations of democracy has been a capital city—both federal and state—game of power for more than 200 years. Those written, and too often presumed, procedures govern the process and provide a roadmap for legislators to strategize on how best to advance their agendas and campaign promises.
Provider Groups Announce Campaign Urging Public to #WearAMask
Wearing a mask is critical to slowing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but the public hasn’t always been compliant. In an effort to provide education and understanding, the American Nurses Association, American Medical Association, and American Hospital Association joined forces to promote a new public health awareness campaign.
House of Representatives; Nurse Scientists; Women in Congress
Cori Bush, a nurse and Black Lives Matter activist, beat U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay (D-MO), a sitting 20-year incumbent, to win the Democratic nomination in St. Louis, MO. Bush will be the newest nurse to U.S. Congress, should she win her seat in November, which is highly likely. She’d join the ranks of U.S. Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) to bring a critical nursing perspective directly to the United States’ legislative branch.
Nurse-Turned-Policymaker; Prescription Drug Reform; Safer Working Conditions
As one of the youngest members of the 2018 freshman congressional class, U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL) has already made quite a name for herself. Eschewing, for the most part in this heightened environment, partisanship and instead concentrating on health and economic issues, the representative champions access and affordability for all Americans.
Nurses in Media; COVID-19 Scope of Practice
The media fails to represent nurses as leaders in health care. Only 2% of health articles included nurses as sources, Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, and colleagues reported in a 2017 study. In a June 26, 2020, opinion piece published in USA Today, Mason called on universities and medical institutes to offer more nurses as sources for journalists, rather than just physicians.
All Politics Is Local, and That’s Why You Should Get Involved in ONS Advocacy
One of the ways ONS celebrated Oncology Nursing Month in May was with CEO Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN, interviewing U.S. Representative Donna Shalala (D-FL) about advocacy and nursing. Miami ONS Chapter Board Member Lissette Gomez-Rios, MSN, OCN®, ONS Director-at-Large Anne Ireland, MSN, RN, AOCN®, CENP, and I also had the opportunity to ask Shalala some questions.
Racism and COVID-19; Nurses in Politics; Combat Social Determinants
A multitude of factors influenced by institutional inequality, such as underlying health conditions and employment opportunities, are to blame for the COVID-19 coronavirus’s disproportional effects on African Americans, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. His remarks were part of a June 23, 2020, testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Nurses Have a Role and Responsibility in Ending Racism
“There’s no way you can extricate what’s been going on and the outcomes of the (COVID-19 coronavirus) from the basic racism and social injustice and inequities that have existed in this country for so many years,” American Academy of Nursing Living Legend Catherine Alicia Georges, EdD, RN, FAAN, said in a June 17, 2020, podcast. “The chronicity of racism is the issue.”
Nurses Obliged to End Racism; Tobacco Industry's Manipulative Marketing
Along with many other healthcare organizations, including ONS, last week the American Nurses Association (ANA) took a bold stand against racism, calling it a public health crisis. On June 12, 2020, ANA President Earnest Grant shared how racism is embedded in health care and what nurses should do to end it.
NCC Sends Letter to U.S. Congress Outlining COVID-19 Priorities
Fifty-seven organizations representing the Nursing Community Coalition (NCC), including ONS, sent a letter to the U.S. Congress acknowledging the federal government’s extraordinary attempts to bolster the economy and promote public health during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. In the April 28, 2020, letter, NCC provided recommendations that could be used to further combat the coronavirus, adding that the 57 national nursing organizations are available as expert resources.
Innovative Clinics Help Patients Safely Access Cancer Care During COVID-19
No longer just a convenience, drive-throughs are an essential part of social distancing during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Retailers and healthcare providers alike have taken it beyond the typical food, prescriptions, and banking, offering everything from merchandise to virus testing—and now, thanks to the innovation of two oncology nurses, cancer care.
Federal Agencies Collaborate; Nurse Proposes Healthcare Bill; NCI Shifts Research to COVID-19
It’s all hands on deck to combat a pandemic from an unknown virus, and researchers everywhere—even from seemingly unrelated disciplines like oncology—are jumping in to study tests, vaccines, and treatments. Effective May 5, 2020, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is partnering with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other federal agencies to research antibody tests for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
COVID-19 Reminds Us That Nurses Are Health Diplomats for Humanity
In early March, I developed fatigue, mild shortness of breath, and a dry cough, so, following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, I called the triage line at my primary care clinic. The nurse with whom I spoke offered me an appointment that same day.
Prevent a Global Nursing Shortage by Investing in Nursing’s Future, WHO Says
The world needs to invest in nursing education, jobs, and leadership if it intends to prevent the projected global shortage of nurses by 2030, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on April 6, 2020, in its State of the World’s Nursing 2020 report, a first-of-its kind look at nurses’ critical role in international health care.
State Legislatures Are Incubators for Advocacy Advancement
“To stay experimentation in things social and economic is a grave responsibility. Denial of the right to experiment may be fraught with serious consequences to the nation. It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
Research Suggests New Nurses Could Help Address the Ambulatory Staffing Issue
As use of ambulatory care settings continues to grow, so too does the demand for expertly trained nurses to staff them. Unfortunately, nurse staffing levels have struggled to meet the burgeoning need in ambulatory clinics throughout the country. Traditionally, undergraduates receive limited ambulatory-specific education in nursing school, leaving them unprepared to enter those settings after graduation. However, the nursing shortage complicates staffing issues, and we must develop programs to direct new graduate nurses into ambulatory oncology careers.
AACN Initiative Gives Nurses a Voice Through Voting
During the Year of the Nurse, many organizations are finding ways to promote and champion the expertise and experiences that make up the most trusted profession in the United States. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is focusing on ways nurses will affect the upcoming presidential election, ensuring nursing professionals are registered, educated, and ready to vote in 2020.
Nurses Lead Charge for HPV Prevention
Only 65% of all U.S. teens have received the first dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine—and only 48.6% of those teens are up to date with the series of HPV vaccinations. Studies have shown the HPV vaccination is effective at reducing the rates of cervix, vaginal, anal, and penile cancers. HPV vaccination rates have become a national health prevention priority, and oncology nurses can help lead the discussion about ways to prevent more than 90% of all HPV-related cancers.
Celebrate Oncology Nurse Leaders During Black History Month
Each year, February marks Black History Month: a time of celebration, recognition, and awareness of the countless accomplishments and achievements of black leaders and trailblazers throughout history. In the oncology nursing community, it’s no different. ONS’s African American leaders have made a lasting difference to patients with cancer and the professional community, paving the way for future generations and championing excellence in oncology nursing.
Today, More Than Ever, Nurses Are Imperative to the World of Healthcare Advocacy
By all accounts, the 2020 political environment is one of the most contentious in American history. The two parties that dominate the political system, liberal and conservative, are even more entrenched in their separate ideals and doubling down during the presidential election cycle. The federal budget, immigration, and health care are the top issues discussed around the watercooler, kitchen table, and coffee shops—and of course the president’s impeachment is looming large.
Donna Clark Was an Advocate for Compassionate Nursing Care
ONS member Donna Clark, RN, BSN, OCN®, was a dedicated oncology nurse whose impact changed the lives of countless patients with cancer for more than 30 years. Clark passed away on February 4, 2020, after a storied career as an oncology nurse and cancer survivor. Her experiences as both patient and healthcare professional allowed her to cross the gap, relate to patients, and empathize with their cancer journey. Her focus on nursing excellence left a lasting impact on the profession and resonates throughout the larger oncology nursing community.
Nurses Will Forge New Territory With Biosimilars in Cancer Care
Although cancer biosimilars have been used in European countries and in U.S. supportive care for some time, biologic medications are still new to cancer treatment in the United States. With greater support coming in at the federal level and from agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission, the rising biosimilar tide could soon reach a new highwater mark for healthcare professionals—and nurses specifically.
How We’re Growing Nursing’s Voice in the Health News Media
The Woodhull Study on Nurses and the Media: Health Care’s Invisible Partner showed that nurses were quoted in only 4% of health stories in the news media. In 2018, Mason and team published the Woodhull Study Revisited: Nurses’ Representation in Health News Media 20 Years Later. They found that after two decades, only 2% of health stories in the news media quoted nurses; although not statistically significant, the decrease is still a concern. The 1998 study identified that nurses were just starting to move into positions of authority in healthcare systems, a status that might make them more available for journalists. Yet in 2018, nurses occupied more healthcare leadership positions in diverse sectors but were still not being used as expert sources by journalists. Why?
Nurses Most Trusted Profession for 18 Years in Row
More than engineers, accountants, professors, or police officers, nurses lead the pack when it comes to honesty and ethics, according to 2019 Gallup polling data. For 18 years in a row, nurses have been recognized as the most trusted profession in the United States—by a considerable margin, too. Ratings for nursing honesty and ethics outpaced every other profession by a wide margin, and nurses lead the next most trusted profession—engineers—by nearly 20 percentage points.
WHO Developing State of the World’s Nursing Report
In celebration and recognition of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife.” As part of this initiative, WHO is holding seminars, publishing papers, and is developing the first-ever State of the World’s Nursing report which will release at the 73rd World Health Assembly.
Nurses Must Understand Health Disparities to Provide Effective Patient Education
Issues pertaining to geography, socioeconomic status, or racial or ethnic background can prohibit patients from accessing the treatment and care they need to successfully navigate their cancer diagnosis. Connecting patients to healthcare professionals and tailored interventions that educate, motivate, and reduce barriers can be a tremendous boon for their care and ultimately their outcomes.
Every Year Is the Year of the Nurse
Celebrations are planned around the globe for 2020 to recognize the impact that nurses make on the health and well-being of our communities. What’s the occasion? The World Health Organization has designated it the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, in honor of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. This exciting year will culminate with the end of the three-year, international Nursing Now! campaign designed to raise the profile and status of nurses worldwide. And we’ll look forward to the release of the new Future of Nursing 2020–2030 consensus study from the National Academy of Medicine that will describe how nurses can help people to get and stay healthy.
Why It Takes So Long for a Healthcare Bill to Become a Law
Constitutional provisions, whose primary purposes are to create obstacles, govern the process that a bill goes through before it becomes law. The founders believed that efficiency was the hallmark of oppressive government, and they wanted to be sure that laws that actually passed all the hurdles were the well-considered result of inspection by many eyes.
New Patient Education Formats Help Nurses Connect Patients to Individualized Resources
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” Benjamin Franklin wrote. for oncology nurses and their patients, this couldn’t be more apt. Patient education is critical throughout the cancer journey, and nurses are essential to individualizing that education.
Two ONS Health Policy Priorities Pass the House, Thanks to 2019 Capitol Hill Days
Participants in ONS’s Fourth Annual Capitol Hill Days quickly saw the fruits of their efforts when two ONS priority bills were passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in October 2019. The yearly advocacy, education, and training event, held September 22–24, brought 110 ONS activists to Washington, DC, for two days of sessions, briefings, updates, and meetings. The advocates engaged in 55 hours of intensive political and policy analysis, enabling them to take the Society’s health policy priority agenda to the U.S. Congress and help transform the future of health care in the United States.
Draft ONS Guideline Open for Public Comment
As part of the rigorous process of transitioning ONS Putting Evidence Into Practice recommendations into formal, actionable clinical practice guidelines, the draft guidelines must undergo a public comment period. The first five guidelines to reach that step will be open for public comment in December 2019 and early 2020.
AHRQ Releases Free Resources to Engage Patients, Families in Care
One constant in nursing practice is time and how nurses never have enough of it. Between a full schedule of patient visits, consulting with coworkers, administering treatments, and the myriad other responsibilities filling a nurse’s day, nurses can struggle to address all of a patient's concerns in the time leftover. Nurses must be adept at balancing their time and multitasking in their duties.
Nurses Lead From Every Bedside or Chairside
A few weeks ago, a former student who was returning to the Pittsburgh area six years after graduation invited me to lunch. She had completed a master’s degree in the interim and had worked successfully as a nurse practitioner.
Nurses Need Resources, Data to Support Patients Transitioning to Survivorship
Since the National Academies of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) issued Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition in 2005, the oncology field has made small strides to implement successful survivorship resources to support patients after their treatment. Because of the vast differences in patient populations, disease types, study locations, and institutional resources, best practices to support patients transitioning from treatment to survivorship care are often unclear. This poses an issue for providers, and patients hear mixed messaging or little information for follow-up care. With many patients receiving treatment in outpatient settings, ambulatory oncology nurses must understand how to provide support for patients during their transition.
Nurses Must Include Palliative Care Early for Their Patients
At a recent conference I attended, a presenter asked the audience to choose the best treatment option for a case study review. The choices were introduced as three separate viable treatments with the fourth option being “or just refer to palliative care.”
Shared Structure Allows Nurses to Drive the Decision-Making Process
As a unit staff nurse, have you ever thought, “I wish they would’ve asked my opinion before making that change in practice?” Many times throughout my career I’ve thought just that, but I’d never been in a position where I could share my opinions. However, getting involved in a shared decision making (SDM) structure opened up new opportunities for me.
To Truly Innovate, We Must Move Beyond the Past
While looking for an image for a presentation, I came across this quote on a picture of a woman whose hands were more than full. It captured the message I was going to be giving. The world of health care, specifically cancer care, continues to evolve rapidly from an array of forces outside of our control. However, in that swirl of change, we have the opportunity to evaluate any resulting barriers or challenges to patient care and to design and implement solutions. To do this, to be creative, to innovate, to problem solve, we may have to let go of things with which we are comfortable but are not of benefit in today’s world.
Texas Nurses Show Advocacy in Action by Bringing the Message Home to Policymakers
As the largest ONS chapter in the United States with more than 2,000 members, the Houston ONS Chapter is primed to make an impact with the state’s lawmakers. In August 2019, chapter members did just that, combining forces with other local chapters for a pilot event featuring ONS policy education and advocacy training deep in the heart of Texas. Almost 100 ONS members participated to get support and education to speak with decision makers about the needs of the profession as well as the patients oncology nurses serve.
What the First Patient I Ever Cared for Taught Me About Anxiety From New Beginnings
I remember my first day as a student nurse technician at an academic medical center as if it was yesterday. It was a Saturday afternoon shift in May 1996 on 10 Green at Harper Hospital in Detroit, MI, on a hematology unit that cared for patients with either malignant hematology (i.e., leukemia and lymphoma) or benign hematology conditions (e.g., sickle cell disease).
Uplift Young Adult Patients by Sharing Resources
Dylan sat on the plastic chair with his elbows rested on his knees, staring blankly at the white tile floor in the clinic exam room. He was listening to me talk about the side effects of chemotherapy, but I could tell he had more on his mind. He lifted his head and touched his red baseball cap with his left hand.
“This is a lot to take in,” he said in a befuddled tone.
Your Words Matter, So Use Them to Advocate for Change
When my son was in nursery school, his teachers encouraged him to express his frustration with others by “using his words” rather than lashing out in some other nonproductive way. I was reminded of the power of words delivered by a compelling speaker when watching a video of the comedian and advocate, Jon Stewart, testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee about the needs of 9/11 first responders. His passion was evident in his voice, in his emotionally laden pauses, and in the words that he used to describe the ongoing healthcare concerns of those heroes. His strong testimony moved the committee and House to support the legislation, pass it on to the Senate, and send it to President Trump’s desk, where he signed it into law in July 2019. Stewart told a convincing story to bring others to action.
Exhilarating Chapter Leadership Weekend Was the Perfect Combination of Learning and Fun
One word comes to mind to describe the 2019 ONS Chapter Leadership Weekend (CLW): exhilarating. As a chapter Board member attending for the first time, I learned new information, networked and met with dedicated chapter leaders, and of course got to eat some delicious food while in Pittsburgh.