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.
Magnet Status Benefits Physicians, Too
Achieving Magnet recognition is the gold standard of a nursing program, demonstrating that an organization’s nursing leaders have established nursing excellence to improve outcomes for patients. And now the results of a new study published in Harvard Business Review show that excellent nurses are positively linked to physicians’ performance as well.
The Work We Do Now Affects Health Care’s Future
The World Health Organization designated 2020 internationally as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife in honor of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. To celebrate the work that nurses do globally, nursing organizations around the world are creating programs that offer recognition—as well as education, training, and professional development.
Support and Empower At-Home Caregivers of Patients With Cancer
Finding comfort among loved ones at home can be conducive to healing in all of its dimensions for patients with cancer. For patients in home care, many aspects of treatment and day-to-day medical care are done by loved ones or family members. In the United States, nearly 4.6 million at-home caregivers are tending to patients with cancer. Although many at-home caregivers embrace the responsibility, managing successful oncology care can be a complex burden for family members—many of whom are likely unprepared for the stressors of cancer care.
Oncology Nurses Enable Patients and Caregivers to Cope at the End of Life
Caregivers for patients with advanced cancer provide crucial support but often have unmet needs. During a session at the ONS 44th Annual Congress in Anaheim, CA, J. Nick Dionne-Odom, PhD, RN, ACHPN, of University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Tara Albrecht, PhD, ACNP-BC, RN, of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, discussed new research in palliative care and the role of nurses in supporting patients and their families.
Nurse-Devised Solutions Help Improve Patients’ Treatment Experience
Two very different projects in which nurses developed creative solutions to common patient problems and helped to improve patients’ treatment experience were the focus of a session on Friday, April 12, 2019, at the ONS 44th Annual Congress in Anaheim, CA.
ONS 44th Annual Congress Opening Celebrates Nurse Inventors and Nurse-Led Innovation
Keynote speaker and ONS member Rachel Walker, PhD, RN, nurse inventor and assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts, emphasized the vital role nurses play as agents of innovation and invention in practice during the opening session on Thursday, April 11, 2019, at the ONS 44th Annual Congress in Anaheim, CA.
We Are All Florence Nightingale
At first this seems like a bold statement, but think about it for a moment. What do we know about Florence Nightingale? She is credited as the founder of modern nursing and embodied nursing leadership and advocacy. She improved hygiene practices in hospitals, resulting in fewer infections and deaths. She pioneered statistical analysis on the conditions surrounding the provision of medical care, especially during the Crimean War, and used visual presentations (or early infographics). She created patient services, such as a kitchen that prepared special dietary meals for patients, a laundry to provide clean linens, and a library for patients’ intellectual stimulation.
Health Policy Begins With You: Educate Your Representatives in Cancer Care
As an oncology advanced practice nurse and administrator for cancer services, every day I care for patients and caregivers coping with cancer. I mentor nursing staff in best practices to deliver care, and I create a work environment conducive to advancing quality cancer care. However, my commitment to supporting people with cancer does not end at the walls of my workplace. Oncology nurses are called to be a visible change agent in our communities—and beyond—to continue the worthy work of championing quality care for people diagnosed with cancer, along with spreading prevention and early detection information.
Modifying Five Lifestyle Factors Could Change the U.S. Cancer Burden
Tobacco, obesity, alcohol, diet, and physical activity are major risk factors for cancer, yet all are modifiable, according to findings released in a new report from the American Cancer Society. Reducing tobacco use is the highest priority, but interventions for all five risk factors are essential for a comprehensive U.S. cancer control plan.
Summer Oncology Nursing Fellowship Program Supports Undergraduate Students
As the number of cancer survivors continues to increase, more oncology-trained nurses are needed to care for this population. Unfortunately, not all schools of nursing have clinical experiences in the oncology setting. However, the University of North Carolina leadership is committed to increasing the pipeline of students interested in caring for patients with cancer and their families through an innovative summer fellowship program.
Nurses in Congress; Defending the ACA; Biden's Moonshot Mission
The new 116th Congress has settled in, and a clearer picture of the diverse freshman class has come to light. In this case, . Lauren Underwood (D-IL) is an RN who ran on her , specifically to protect those with pre-existing conditions. She’s already a co-chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus and has signed on to Title VIII nursing reauthorization legislation— . Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)—the first nurse ever elected to Congress—is entering her 13th term in the chamber and continues to offer a veteran nursing presence on the hill.
A Matter of Mind: When Patients With Cancer Have Psychiatric Comorbidities
Nearly 20% of Americans experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. With diagnoses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression, about one in every 25 Americans suffers from a serious mental illness that directly affects major life activities. The prevalence of mental illness in the United States can have a downstream effect on cancer care and patient outcomes, and with these statistics, oncology nurses may encounter patients with cancer who have pre-existing psychiatric disorders. Healthcare providers in fields outside of psychology need to be prepared to address the unique needs and individualized care required to support this patient population during and beyond cancer treatment.
Nurses Ranked ‘Most Trusted Profession’ in 2019
Public opinion surveys from respected groups such as Gallup serve as a barometer on certain topics and issues. In Gallup’s , nurses were again ranked the most-trusted profession in the United States for the 20th year. In 2019, 84% of respondents said they rated nurses “very high” for honesty and ethical standards, leading the pack by a wide margin. Patients, families, and caregivers know firsthand that nurses are driving patient-centered care. For that very reason, they rank nurses higher than physicians, clergy, police officers, and educators. It’s a position that commands respect.
Building Collaboration, Education With Oncology Nurses in Malawi
Nestled between Tanzania and Mozambique in eastern Africa, Malawi is a country of more than 18 million citizens. It faces a unique cancer burden that’s proven challenging for practitioners and patients alike. With a high prevalence of HIV-infected individuals, Malawi sees a proportionate rate of AIDS-related cancers, including Kaposi sarcoma, cervical cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Currently, healthcare professionals in the country face a lack of standardized oncology education and resources. Roughly 84% of the country’s citizens live in rural areas with limited access to healthcare institutions.
Cancer Prevention: Oncology Nurses Save Lives by Raising Awareness
Despite flashy television campaigns, countless pamphlets and brochures, and seemingly constant reminders, people are still unaware of important cancer prevention information. The World Health Organization estimated that 30%–50% of all cancer cases are preventable. But between modifiable behaviors, hereditary and genetic risks, infectious agents, and more, the general public finds itself mostly unprepared to tackle the cancer prevention conversation.
Capitol Hill Days Brings Nurses’ Voices to Policymakers
Since 2016, ONS has gathered hundreds of nurse advocates in the nation’s capital to speak truth to power during its annual Hill Days conference. This two-day meeting brings more than 100 oncology nurses to Washington, DC, to learn about the Society’s health policy legislative agenda and to be trained in how to educate elected officials on the priority issues most important to ONS members.
ONS Past President Sandra Schafer Leaves a Legacy of Compassionate Leadership
From her patients to her colleagues to the entire cancer care community, ONS Past President Sandra Lee Schafer, RN, MN, AOCN®, made everyone she touched feel special, inspiring and motivating a generation of oncology nurses in advancing care for patients with cancer. Schafer passed away on December 7, 2018, but her legacy of compassion and care lives on.
Under the Knife: Supporting Patients’ Needs Throughout Surgical Oncology Care
People often use idioms—such as “going under the knife” as a euphemism for surgery—to avoid confronting distressing situations, which is even more pronounced when it comes to life events as serious as cancer. But for many patients with cancer, undergoing a surgical procedure is key to positive outcomes, and they count on the expert clinical care and support of their surgical oncology nurses to see them through it.
Lame Duck Session; Health Care to the States; Nurses in Congress
Washington insiders weren’t surprised by the election’s outcome, and the next session of Congress will be something to watch in 2019. However, the current work of politics in a lame duck session can be interesting at best and potentially dangerous at worst. Members of Congress who lost their seats are now under no obligation to their districts, leadership, or party and often vote their conscience on late-session bills.
New Edition of Palliative Care Guidelines Focus on Inclusivity, Responsibility
Palliative care is a necessary inclusion in the care of all people with a serious illness, no matter the diagnosis or setting, and it’s the responsibility all healthcare providers, including specialty providers in oncology. The National Consensus Project (NCP) expanded on these two key tenets in its new release of the fourth edition of the Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care. ONS is one of 80 organizations endorsing the new guidelines.
An Oncology Nurse’s Primer on the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act
When Senator John McCain (R-AZ) passed away in August 2018 from aggressive glioblastoma just one day after his family announced he stopped treatment, it put a poignant highlight in Washington on a need of which oncology nurses are far too aware: palliative care and hospice. Ideally, palliative care begins at the time of a cancer diagnosis and is aimed at managing symptoms throughout the cancer journey. Hospice begins when a patient’s prognosis is six months or less, yet in most cases, as McCain’s illustrates, patients begin hospice far too close to death. Many point to a lack of awareness and education—for patients and the public as well as oncology nurses and other palliative care providers.
How ONS Contributes to the Value of Healthcare Coalitions
ONS, like so many membership organizations with dedicated healthcare interests, oils the gears that move the public policy machine forward. Each shift represents another opportunity for success. One such tactic is working in coalitions, and ONS is a vital member of health advocacy groups in Washington, DC, usually as the only nursing society at the table.
When ONS Speaks, People Listen
As this important midterm election approaches, my hope is that all ONS members recognize the importance of raising our collective voices as we elect our next leaders at the local, state, and federal level on November 6. In the words of former First Lady Michelle Obama, “It is more important than ever that we show up to vote, not just this year, but every year and in every election. Every voice must be heard, and every vote must be counted.”
ONS and Other Groups Ask Nurses to Lead by Example to Promote Advance Care Planning
Advance care planning (ACP) is a process for patients and their families to discuss their wishes and goals of care for treatment and end-of-life care, clarify related values and goals, and state preferences through written documents and medical orders. In situations where a patient’s decision-making capacity is limited, healthcare providers turn to family members to make decisions. When no ACP conversations have occurred between patients and their families, family members are left to make decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment without input from the patient or with little knowledge of the patient’s wishes.
Oncology Nurses Make Impact During ONS’s Hill Days
The breadth of understanding that can come from a face-to-face conversation is hard to underestimate. More than 100 oncology nurses discovered the power of advocacy, education, and one-on-one conversations during ONS’s 2018 Capitol Hill Days in Washington, DC.
Drug Pricing in Ads; Cancer Fertility Preservation; American Healthcare Panic
Addressing the high cost of prescription medications has been an ongoing focus for the Trump administration. Its latest move, requiring drug companies to list their product’s market price on consumer ads, is an added level of transparency that didn’t exist before. Whether the decree will have an impact remains to be seen, but it may add some trust to the process.
Institution Meets Magnet Designation by Incorporating ONS Standards in Care Delivery
To meet or maintain Magnet designation, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program expects organizations to incorporate specialty standards and guidelines into the care delivery system.
Brazil’s Inaugural Oncology Nursing Conference Reminiscent of ONS’s Own Beginnings
What comes to mind when someone mentions Brazil? Do you think soccer? The 2016 Rio Olympics? Carnival? The Amazon rainforest? Although all of those are true, even more impressive is what’s happening in oncology nursing throughout Brazil. In August 2018, a small group of dedicated Brazilian oncology nurses—many of whom are ONS members—hosted the Inaugural Oncology Nursing Brazil 2018 conference in Sao Paulo.
ONS Member Receives Biden Cancer Initiative’s FIERCE Award
As a continuation of the National Cancer Moonshot legacy, the Biden Cancer Initiative (BCI) announced its inaugural roster of FIERCE Award recipients, naming 10 transformative healthcare professionals and institutions who have driven change and positively impacted the lives of their patients with cancer. For her work as an oncology nurse navigator and her accomplishments in patient navigation, ONS member Cynthia Cantril, RN, OCN®, CBCN®, MPH, was named one of the BCI’s FIERCE Award recipients at the Biden Cancer Summit Welcome Reception in Washington, DC, on September 20, 2018.
Oncology Nurses’ Role in Recognizing and Addressing Oncologic Emergencies
Most emergencies can manifest in the blink of an eye. Whether it’s a medical emergency, a car accident, an act of nature, or something else, emergencies are sudden crises that require swift, immediate action. For many patients with cancer, among the most distressing challenges along the treatment journey is the possibility of experiencing an oncologic emergency.
Specialty Nursing 30 Years Later: Details May Change, but the Heart of Nursing Remains
While awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Florence last month, I took the opportunity to purge the proverbial closets. One contained dozens of VHS tapes. I had no need to keep most of them, but one caught my attention. “Focus: Specialty Nursing” was produced by the National Nursing Network. The video referenced how changes in the healthcare system were resulting in increased nursing specialization and a growing number of specialty nursing organizations. Leaders of specialty nursing organizations who were attending the National Federation of Specialty Nursing Organizations (NFSNO) annual meeting were interviewed. The tape is not dated, but I am guessing it was produced in the late 1980s because Deborah Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN, ONS president from 1987–1989, discussed oncology nursing.
Emory University Appoints Oncology Nurse as Senior Vice President of Research
Building on a long career as a pioneer in oncology nursing research and cancer clinical trials, ONS member Deborah Watkins Bruner, RN, PhD, FAAN, has been named the senior vice president of research at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, a newly created position that serves on the Emory president’s leadership team. Effective October 1, 2018, Bruner’s leadership, expertise, and research experience will guide Emory’s interprofessional research efforts and promote education and training for future researchers, including nurse scientists.
Moonshot Moves Forward Thanks to Biden Initiative
Like all great adventures, it began as an idea. What if the United States could make huge advancements in the fight against cancer in a short amount of time? How could that be accomplished? What are the metrics? How much would it cost? Who could direct such an effort?
Oncology Nurse Educates Congressional Staff About the Importance of Palliative, Hospice Care
As a hematology and oncology nurse, I’ve seen countless patients in treatment and recovery, and I’ve seen some lose their fight against cancer. In June 2018, I had the privilege to represent ONS as the sole nurse selected to advocate for palliative care with one of ONS’s coalition partners, the Patient Quality of Life Coalition (PQLC), where I was able to share my perspective and the many aspects of my role as a nurse with congressional staff. As the sole practitioner in the five congressional meetings, I provided insight about how nurses interact with patients, particularly during cancer treatment.
Oncology Nurses Must Share Experiences, Perspectives to Advocate for Change
As an oncology nurse, I’m grateful to work alongside so many colleagues who bring dedication, grace, and skill to their work. No other industry in the world shares the same frustrations or emotional tolls as nursing, but we continue to bring enthusiasm, optimism, and devotion to our daily work. Nurses strive to ensure the best for their patients. It’s the call to patient advocacy that is at nursing’s core.
McCain Announcement Sheds Light on Nurses’ Role in Advance Care Planning
Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) family announced on August 24, 2018, that McCain has elected to stop treatment for his glioblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer. Although his health had surpassed his original prognosis for many months, “the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict. With his usual strength of will, he has now chosen to discontinue medical treatment,” his family explained.
Active Support Group Creates Community for AYAs With Cancer
Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It can strike anyone at any time. Being told that you have cancer can be a frightening experience, and feelings of loneliness and isolation are not uncommon, especially for young adults with cancer.
Oncology Nursing’s Future—Preparing the Next ONS Strategic Plan
Each spring brings a flurry of annual meetings held by oncology organizations: Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and ONS’s. This year I attended all and was part of panel presentations at ACCC and AACR to bring the nursing perspective to the topics.
Evidence-Based Practice Helps Standardize Care After Pancreatic Cancer Surgery
For many patients with cancer, surgery is an integral part of the treatment regimen and offers a chance for a cure. This is especially true for patients with pancreatic cancer, where surgery is currently the only potential cure for the disease and a predictor of long-term survival.
How Can Nurses Help Patients Understand End-of-Life Options?
When physician-assisted death mandates were passed in states like Oregon, Washington, and California, guidelines were established for practitioners as part of election mandates. However, in states like Montana and Vermont, the legalization of assisted death went through the legislature without process and practice guidelines. Therefore, practitioners have little or no framework to implement the process of medical aid in dying.