Do you promote optimal patient outcomes, advocate for patients’ voices, and implement change? Then you’re a nurse leader. It is easy to think of nurse leaders as those in administrative positions or conducting bedside research, but the reality is that nursing leadership can take on many roles through a variety of different nursing positions, from generalist to certified to advanced practice. Leadership is about influencing change and improvement, inspiring those around you.

Nurse leaders are those identifying and addressing practice or knowledge gaps in their practice area, implementing quality improvement projects, developing practice policies and procedures, advocating for the voice of patients and caregivers, removing barriers to practicing and being reimbursed for the full scope of licensure, or playing a role in shared governance. Opportunities for leadership are growing, but may remain unrecognized by nurses who haven’t realized their leadership potential or the impact it may have on their peers, patients, and healthcare as a whole. 

How ONS Is Developing Nurse Leaders

We need new nurse leaders who can guide oncology nurses to the future of cancer care. ONS has an ongoing commitment to cultivating new leaders, those who will generate knowledge, be change agents, mentor the next generation of clinical and advanced practice nurses, and play a role in patient advocacy—helping patients and their families navigate a complex healthcare system with more cancer treatment options than ever before. 

Historically, we’ve provided leadership education, offered writing workshops to mentor new authors and presenters, and offered mentorship and networking opportunities to aspiring leaders. Now, we’re adding this new ONS Voice column for 2018. Throughout this series, you will hear from ONS leaders at the national and local chapter levels as we take on challenges facing nursing and cancer care. As you read the experiences of oncology nurse leaders in the care of patients with cancer, consider what could be done at your practice site or what leadership involvement may look like for you, whether at your own institution or in ONS. 

How You Can Get Involved

Healthcare professionals find themselves in an age fraught with change, policy, and pressure to perform. But with this brings opportunity for new successes, evidence, and approaches to cancer care. Although oncology nurses may see different challenges in a variety of practice settings and patient populations, solutions may be universal. 

As you read these columns, consider what you are working on that needs to be shared. Discuss ideas and opportunities with your nursing team. Consider sharing with your local ONS chapter, submitting an article for publication in an ONS journal, starting a discussion on an ONS community board, or writing for the ONS Voice website (email pubONSvoice@ons.org for more details on how to submit). See the sidebar for additional ideas for getting involved.

In 2018, we will see clinical advancements in cancer treatment, increased focus on quality outcomes, and healthcare policy changes. Effective leadership from nurses throughout the profession regardless of role or practice setting will help to ensure oncology nurses are ready for what lies ahead.

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