The month of May is a perfect time to think about new beginnings. Among its seasonal events such as Mother’s Day, weddings, baby showers, and graduations, we also celebrate Oncology Nursing Month and ONS Congress in Washington, DC, this year.

laura fennimore
Laura Fennimore, DNP, RN, NEA-BC

As I prepared this first leadership message as your new ONS president, I thought about this season of commencements, new beginnings, and my own leadership journey. It has been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and that it helps to have walking partners—like mentors—to walk beside you. Oncology nurses know that May is a great month to find, be, and thank a mentor.

Find a Mentor

I am honored to have been selected as your ONS president for the next two years. My oncology nursing career started when I was a student nurse learning to care for patients on a surgical oncology unit. I was guided by an outstanding mentor and faculty member who encouraged my passion for caring for patients who were newly diagnosed with cancer, treated with often life-changing surgery, and fearful about an uncertain future.

As an ONS leader, I have had the good fortune to find many visionary practitioners, educators, and leaders who have shaped my practice. I met many of these mentors at ONS Congress, which has been a valuable resource to find people who shared my interests and passions. If you are a new oncology nurse or in a new role on your leadership journey, Congress is a great place to find a mentor.

Be a Mentor

I am blessed to have had a long career as an oncology nurse and to have had the opportunity to pass on the gifts of knowledge, leadership, and encouragement that my mentors shared with me. The challenges in oncology and health care today require all of us to mentor future generations of oncology nurses. Is there someone who could benefit from the depth of your wisdom and experience? Perhaps now is the time for you to be a mentor for an oncology nurse, nurse navigator, educator, administrator, nurse practitioner, or researcher.

Thank a Mentor

Lastly, I am grateful for many mentors that have brought me to this point in my leadership journey, including my parents, coworkers, colleagues, and ONS members and leaders. It is my pleasure to take this opportunity to thank a mentor—outgoing ONS President Susan Schneider, PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN—for her guidance, support, and encouragement throughout the past year as she passes the baton of ONS leadership to a new board of directors. I am thankful as well for the support of our outgoing board members, Jeanie Rosiak, DNP, RN, AOCNP®, CBCN®, Kay Harse, MS, RN, AOCN®, and Joni Watson, MBA, MSN, RN, OCN®, for their leadership examples and kindness.

This month or in the months to come, if you, too, find yourself on a new leadership journey, don’t pass up an opportunity to find, be, or thank a mentor. It will make all the difference.