Hope is an essential element of the human experience, a belief for positive outcomes both today and in the future.
Oncology nurses embrace hope in daily practice and can often impart it to patients and families—whether for cure, remission, pain relief, healed relationships, or spiritual growth. Our patients show us that hope requires inner strength and relentless resilience to protect them from unendurable suffering.
Those are the same qualities we need right now in the oncology nursing profession, especially as our challenges mount. Let’s face it: Nurses confronted burnout and compassion fatigue prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which simply exacerbated the problem. Nursing shortages are at an all-time high, all clinical settings lack essential supplies, technology and work environments are constantly evolving, and nurses must adapt quickly to an ever-changing world. When you factor in racial and social challenges and workplace violence, it’s no wonder that nurses are in a state of exhaustion. Where do we go from here? What is our silver lining?
Our hope is in the next generation of oncology nurses. They are different thinkers; resilient, confident, and ready for change; and our profession will thrive when we embrace and appreciate all that they bring to it. They are adept with technology and artificial intelligence, and they are data driven, posting the latest studies, tweeting, and navigating electronic health records efficiently. They believe in increasing consistency in practice, reducing costs, and eliminating variability in care—all critical components of our hope for the future of value-based models, where nurses are individually reimbursed for the education, patient navigation, and advanced practice care they provide.
It’s up to today’s oncology nurses to tap into our next generation, listen to them, and trust them. But how do we attract them to oncology nursing? We can start by portraying a positive image of our profession.
Ten years ago, my daughter entered nursing school and roomed with four other nursing majors. I spent time with them, talking about my passion for oncology nursing and the various roles I’ve had. I invited them to our local ONS chapter dinners, and I recommended oncology topics for study. I even brought my daughter and one roommate to the 2014 ONS Congress® as students. Four of those five women became oncology nurses, and some returned to the 2022 ONS Congress in Anaheim for their first Congress as an RN.
When you encounter young individuals and students, share your passion for what you do every day. We need to rebuild, rejuvenate, and restore hope in nursing as a profession. And we need to share why we chose oncology as our specialty. Invite a new nurse to your chapter dinner—or broaden your chapter’s outreach by developing an event specifically for student nurses. Find someone in the next generation to mentor, to foster, to grow. Expect a positive outcome today and in the future, and have hope for our next generation of oncology nurses. They are equipped and ready!