Laura Fennimore, DNP, RN, NEA-BC

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.

For ONS, every year is the year of the nurse. As we enter this new year, ONS members have an opportunity to consider the difference that each of us can make for our profession and for the people we serve.

At the top of my oncology nursing New Year’s resolutions is a plan to engage nursing students and early-career professionals in ONS. Did you know that, since 2015, nursing students have been able to join ONS for free? As of October 2019, ONS has more than 2,100 student nurse members. Those members are critical to our future and are full of hope, creativity, and enthusiasm.

I had a chance to meet Joanne Deverson and Carlos Rios, two student nurse members from New York, at the ONS Fourth Annual Capitol Hill Days in Washington, DC, in September 2019. They chose to engage in their profession by learning how to share their voices with policy makers about issues that matter to people with cancer. I also spoke with Emily Manuel, BSN, RN, from Mississippi, who developed her passion for oncology nursing as a high school student when she cared for an older neighbor with cancer. As an early-career professional completing her first year as a nurse, Emily met with Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and advocated for palliative care education, oral cancer drug parity, reimbursement for lymphedema treatment, and research to protect young adults from e-cigarette and tobacco addiction.

Florence Nightingale would be proud of those early-career professionals as they learn to advance excellence in oncology nursing and quality cancer care. Nightingale reminded us to “never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.”

Here are some other ways you might continue Nightingale’s spirit of curiosity, innovation, and engagement in our profession as you celebrate the Year of the Nurse in 2020:

  • Introduce yourself as an oncology nurse.
  • Mentor at least one nursing student, and invite them to join you at a local chapter meeting.
  • Vote for your next ONS leaders this month and for your local, state, and national government leaders in 2020.
  • Support education, research, and leadership by donating to the Oncology Nursing Foundation.
  • Raise your hand and consider a board position in your local chapter or engage with the Leadership Development Committee to explore national leadership on the ONS Board of Directors.

Best wishes with all your New Year’s resolutions!