By Laurie J. Dohnalek, DNP, MBA, RN, NE-BC, ONS Member and Nursing Director of Oncology, Medicine and Emergency Services, Medstar Georgetown University Hospital 

On January 28, 2016, a group of 15 ONS members, led by Chief Executive Officer Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN, participated in an inside view of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Arranged as a private tour for ONS of the NIH’s Clinical Center and National Cancer Institute (NCI), the event involved attendees who were drawn from the greater DC area ONS chapters, including Washington, DC, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. The tour was guided by Caryn Steakley, RN, deputy clinical director for the Center of Cancer Research, and Andrea Denicoff, MS, RN, head of NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network Clinical Trials Operations. 

The tour included a behind-the-scenes look at working units of the Molecular Imaging Program, the Day Hospital, and the surgical inpatient unit. This is an exciting time to be able to get a peek of the NIH and NCI, given President Obama’s cancer moonshot initiative and the great bipartisan support in Congress. With the hope of an increase in the federal appropriations to begin this national program, nurses are a critical part of the discussion and the implementation of treatment and care. 

A presentation and Q&A session followed the tour. ONS members provided thoughtful, inquisitive inquiries and comments on national cancer care moving into the future. Networking with the NIH and NCI created a learning experience with the chance to advocate in the federal government on behalf of oncology nurses. It was another opportunity where ONS provided members with a meaningful way to learn about health policy and advocacy on behalf of patients and the oncology profession.