Get to know Teresa Knoop, MSN, RN, AOCN®, ONS director-at-large from 2020–2023, an assistant director in the clinical trials office at Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center in Brentwood, TN.
How long have you been a nurse?
I soon will celebrate my 43rd anniversary as a nurse, with 37 of those years in oncology. I graduated from Murray State University in Murray, KY, with a BSN in May 1978 and began my career as a graduate nurse two days later.
What led you to oncology nursing?
Even as a young, novice nurse in a community hospital on a medical/surgical unit, I was drawn to our patients with cancer. After holding a variety of positions on general medical/surgical units, I moved into an oncology nursing role in 1984 and never looked back. The privilege to work with patients experiencing cancer is deeply rewarding.
What was your first experience with ONS?
Soon after I began to work in oncology, an oncology nurse colleague invited me to a local ONS meeting. Soon thereafter, I attended my first ONS Congress in Houston, TX, and felt I had found a professional home. I became involved three years later as treasurer for my local chapter.
What role has ONS served in your career?
ONS has been an important part of my career, particularly for professional growth. It has afforded me countless opportunities to challenge myself and contribute to cancer care.
What relationships or connections have you made through ONS that you wouldn’t have found otherwise?
Throughout my career, oncology nursing leaders, most of whom were involved in ONS, have mentored and supported me. They’ve encouraged me to publish, present, and accept professional growth opportunities. Additionally, ONS gave me a strong network of colleagues—and lifelong friendships.
How did you get involved in ONS leadership?
I became involved in my local chapter in 1990 when I served as treasurer, which led me to leadership roles at the local and national level.
What has been your proudest moment as an oncology nurse?
I’ve been proudest of the times I was able to mentor and assist other oncology nurses to grow professionally. I love to see oncology nurses gain experience and share their patient care expertise through poster presentations, publishing, and speaking. I feel fulfilled to know that their experiences may positively enhance the care of patients with cancer in a broader sense.
What is your biggest challenge in oncology nursing today, and how can ONS help?
Because I am in management, my biggest challenge currently is staffing. We find it difficult to recruit nurses with oncology experience who want to move into a research role. All of us in ONS need to seek ways to encourage nurses to become oncology nurses and highlight the variety of roles in the specialty.
What word would you say describes you?
What was your best travel experience and why?
Our family loves to say that our favorite travel experience was the last one we had together. We have a deep appreciation for our U.S. national parks and have a goal to visit each one.