Laura Fennimore,  DNP, RN, NEA-BC, ONS President
Laura Fennimore, DNP, RN, NEA-BC

A few weeks ago, a former student who was returning to the Pittsburgh area six years after graduation invited me to lunch. She had completed a master’s degree in the interim and had worked successfully as a nurse practitioner.

Trying to discern the next step in her career path, she spoke eloquently about the problems she observed in her workplaces. “I just want to get in there and fix them; we need better policies to improve care and care delivery,” she explained.

I was thrilled to see her passion and enthusiasm. This young nurse has already been a leader at the bedside and chairside and will continue to develop her leadership skills for her patients and her profession.

Classic definitions of leadership include elements like creating and articulating a vision, influencing others with effective communication skills, guiding others through change, and developing and renewing followers’ commitment. Learning how to master the art of leadership is a lifelong process that begins with an assessment of current leadership skills and identification of the types of knowledge and experiences that address any gaps. Understanding the complexities of health care today as well as the important skills of communication, negotiation, and influence can make all the difference as nurses attempt to “get in there and fix” the problems in our healthcare systems.

Many nurses will continue their education through graduate studies to learn how quality outcomes are shaping healthcare finance and reimbursement, how to build resilient and inclusive workplaces that foster creative thinking and growth, and how to use data to drive effective decisions that improve the health of our communities. Nurses will also turn to their professional organizations to learn how to become effective leaders through experiences such as serving on a project team, advocacy groups, or boards of directors or editors.

ONS has a long tradition of developing oncology nurse leaders. Every summer, ONS offers a Chapter Leadership Weekend for chapter officers to learn how to be effective leaders in their community. The ONS Leadership Development Committee (LDC) has developed several online resources, including the Leadership Competencies Self-Assessment, materials for potential board candidates, and a series of videos for emerging leaders, all of which can be found on

This summer, ONS convened a project team consisting of ONS Board of Directors and LDC members, educators, nurse executives, staff leaders, and nationally recognized nursing leaders with substantial board and association experience. The team developed a framework outlining opportunities for leadership development that will serve members with varied interests, time, and levels of leadership experience. The ONS Board reviewed the proposal during its September meeting and will share additional details in future issues of the ONS Voice.

We are excited to share this dynamic framework that will build a robust volunteer leadership pipeline for ONS and develop leaders to influence our workplaces, communities, and profession from every oncology bed, infusion chair, or boardroom chair. Stay tuned!