Get to know Anne M. Ireland, MSN, RN, AOCN®, CENP, director-at-large on the ONS Board of Directors from 2018–2021. Anne is the executive director for community nursing practice at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, CA.
How long have you been a nurse?
I have been a nurse since 1984.
What led you to oncology nursing?
My first job as a nurse was on an inpatient oncology unit which I accepted (mostly) because it was at a hospital close to where I lived in Toronto, which was a new big city that I did not know my way around! I immediately fell in love with oncology and have never left.
What was your first experience with ONS?
My first experience was as a member when I lived in Canada. I enjoyed the journals tremendously. My first true exposure to ONS was when I attended my first Congress in 1986, and I was totally overwhelmed by and impressed with the resources ONS had to offer. I immediately felt that I had found my professional home.
What role has ONS served in your career?
ONS has been my teacher, mentor, and coach and connected me to thousands of oncology nurses across the country. ONS provided opportunities for me to lead, initially at the chapter level when I helped charter the Northern Vermont ONS Chapter in 1999, then on projects and the ONS Steering Council, and now on the Board as a director-at-large.
ONS and the Oncology Nursing Foundation have also helped support my career, financially. Over the years, I have been granted an ONS Congress scholarship, the Nursing Excellence in Management Award, and, recently, a doctoral scholarship.
What relationships or connections have you made through ONS you wouldn’t have found otherwise?
ONS has granted me the opportunity to meet so many fabulous oncology nurses and truly iconic nurse leaders. When I first moved to the United States, I had the opportunity to meet Carol Curtiss, MSN, RN-BC (who at the time was the ONS president). To this day, we see each other at ONS Congress and she has always been a beacon for me and my career.
Over the years, the connections and relationships have included phenomenal nurse leaders—Brenda Nevidjon, Ruth McCorkle, Sandra Mitchell (although we were colleagues in Canada before we both landed in the United States), Betty Ferrell, Marylin Dodd, Rose Mary Carroll-Johnson, and many others. Each and everyone have impressed me and helped me grow.
Recently, Tracy Gosselin and I served on the ONS Board together. We immediately formed a friendship and have since had the opportunity to present together on incivility in nursing. We are now in the midst of publishing on the same topic.
How did you get involved in ONS leadership?
It all started with leading the development of a chapter in Vermont. The closest chapter was NH/VT Chapter, and far drive in the middle of winter (which is long in Vermont!) was just not possible. A small group of oncology nurses in Burlington met in the waiting room of the practice where I was working, and that’s how our new chapter began.
What has been your proudest moment as an oncology nurse?
Without a doubt, my proudest moments are when I knew I had made a difference in a patient’s (and their families’) life. Several come to mind, but one that stands out was when I supported a five-year-old granddaughter of a special patient to have a “milk and cookies” party for her grandfather because she thought it would make him happy. He passed away shortly after the party. She has lasting memories (and so do I) of how special he was to her. I learned in that moment the power of a loving family at end of life.
What is your biggest challenge in oncology nursing today, and how can ONS help?
It is challenging to stay current when new therapies, new equipment, and new technology keep us all on our toes! I have the distinct advantage of working in a large comprehensive cancer center with lots of educational support, and it is still challenging. I recognize that many of our ONS members work in small settings (as I did when I lived in Vermont), so keeping up to date takes time.
ONS can help by continuing to synthesize and share information that oncology nurses need to deliver quality care. Providing tools and “ready-to-use” resources that support nurses in caring for patients and families is very helpful and ensures that oncology nurses are delivering evidence-based education and care to all patients.
What word would you say describes you?
What is your favorite song, and why?
“Desperado,” written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey, and made famous by the Eagles. First, it is a stunning melody, but it also has complex and convoluted lyrics. I think I love the confusion of the young man who is trying to find his way to love before it’s too late. I recently danced to this song at my older son’s wedding which was amazing!