As we pass the one-year mark of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and reflect on all that has ensued since last March, human nature is to focus on our losses. By all accounts, 2020 has been a difficult period in our personal, professional, and civic lives. All of us grieve for our loved ones, patients, and the freedoms of life we have sacrificed.

Nancy Houlihan, RN, MA, AOCN®
Nancy Houlihan, MA, RN, AOCN®, ONS president

With the growing numbers of vaccinated people, we share a glimmer of hope that an end to the pandemic may be in sight and we’ll be able to plan events again. When will it be safe to travel, plan a wedding, or attend a live conference? It is exciting to plan for when we might be back to better times.

At ONS, we share those mixed feelings of loss and hope. After canceling it in 2020, we had to transition our in-person ONS CongressTM—an unparalleled gathering of oncology nurses that builds lifelong knowledge, relationships, and collaboration—to a virtual event for 2021. We look forward to 2022 with hope that we can gather again in southern California. In the meantime, we are applying the experience gained from our inaugural 2020 ONS BridgeTM virtual conference to Congress. Last September, our staff and presenters outdid themselves in adapting to the new environment, and the lessons we learned from the more than 4,000 nurses who attended will help us create an even greater experience for future virtual events like April’s Congress. Learn more or register at

The expression, “necessity is the mother of invention” (or more appropriately, innovation), is the best way to describe oncology nursing in 2020. The changes in cancer care delivery that we thought were years ahead of us became a reality overnight. The rapid need for technology for remote care required innovative application of new systems and immediate skill building for oncology nurses. Ever-evolving changes in personal protective equipment guidelines, clinical trial restrictions, and emergency use authorization of investigational therapeutics and vaccines created challenges to staying informed.

ONS responded by quickly providing clinical resources on the COVID-19 resource page, and the dedicated COVID-19 ONS Community is a platform for members to share questions and experiences. Both resources are regularly updated and revised as new information becomes available.

Although much of the world has paused for 2020, the Oncology Nursing Foundation has not. Since 1981, the Foundation has provided more than $29 million in funding for oncology nurses. In 2020, the Foundation awarded:

  • $461,00 in academic scholarship support to aspiring oncology nurses pursuing bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees
  • $540,000 from the endowment for four major research grants in symptom science related to immunotherapy and targeted therapies and for implementation science initiatives
  • Three $100,000 grants from corporate funders for nurse scientists to research cancer health disparities

In 2021, the Foundation celebrates its 40th anniversary. Join me in recognizing this anniversary milestone by giving to the Foundation. You can make a donation in honor of a colleague or in memory of a patient or loved one at A gift to the Foundation is an investment in the future of oncology nursing and serves as a symbol of hope at a time when hope is what we all share.