Earlier this year, ONS, the Oncology Nursing Foundation, and the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) Boards collectively approved adding the word connection to the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commitment statement. The addition reflects our shared understanding that our members, donors, certification candidates, and other stakeholders connect with the enterprise in many ways. 

According to Oxford Languages, connection is defined as “a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else.” However, it can mean so much more. Connection embodies meaningful relationships and shared experiences that unite us. That understanding allowed the three Boards to see beyond our individual priorities and come together to ensure that the DEIC commitment statement truly encapsulates the essence of oncology nursing through the strength of our connections with one another.  

As oncology nurses, we embody professional connections. Here are some examples:

At the Annual ONS Congress®

As the premier conference for oncology nurses around the world, ONS Congress connects us nationally and globally. At the 49th annual ONS Congress in April 2024, nurses from at least 26 countries attended. 

I had the privilege of meeting the vice president of the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology/Association Canadienne des Infirmieres en Oncologie (CANO/ASIO), Catriona Buick, PhD, RN, CON(C). Although we come from different countries and healthcare models, we discussed similar issues that oncology nursing faces. Additionally, we reflected on our 2024 joint position statement on fertility preservation and how we can continue to collaborate on other initiatives that have a positive impact on the profession and cancer care. By connecting, we can achieve so much more together. 

Another example, was through our oral and poster presentations. Countless attendees shared how they gained invaluable insights from each other through best practices and emerging evidence presented. Many of you engaged with authors, nurse scientists, ONS staff, and others, fostering connections that enriched your knowledge and enhanced your practice. The value of this type of connection is truly priceless. 

At Our Workplaces and Local ONS Chapters

Oncology nursing has always been about forging connections—not only with each other, but with our interprofessional colleagues, patients, families, caregivers, and the many individuals who support our mission of providing excellent cancer care. Although our busyness can feel overwhelming at times, let us not forget the many individuals that are here to support us. 

Reflecting on my own journey as a new oncology nurse, I vividly recall feeling like a fish out of water. Yet thanks to the support of a clinical nurse specialist, I was introduced to my local ONS chapter meetings and ONS as a professional organization. Since then, I have encountered numerous individuals who have provided a constant stream of support. Through these connections, I felt welcomed, supported, and inspired to volunteer and advance the field. 

Through ONS, the Oncology Nursing Foundation, and ONCC

Our connection with ONS and its community extends to the Oncology Nursing Foundation and ONCC as well. Many of you pursued certification through ONCC to demonstrate your dedication and commitment to excellence in oncology nursing. 

Similarly, your connections through ONS have allowed you to contribute financially to the Foundation, supporting nursing scholarship, research, education, and so much more. This year I encourage you to consider giving a little extra to help us meet the campaign goal of $8 million. You can contribute in various ways, such as organizing a Facebook fundraiser, initiating a fundraiser through your local chapter, or checking whether your organization offers a matching program. Learn more about how you can support the cause.

With New Oncology Nurses

Remember your own early days as an oncology nurse and recognize the profound impact you can have on the lives of those new oncology nurses just beginning their journey. As we look ahead to our 50th anniversary in 2025, I encourage you to reach out to a new oncology nurse. Take time to support, educate, encourage, motivate, influence, and inspire the next generation to lead the field of oncology nursing forward.

“Connection is why we are here: It is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives,” Brené Brown, an American professor and author, said. Let us not forget this as we progress through our career as oncology nurses. Through fostering connections, we can continue to learn, grow, and advance our profession and ONS in innovative ways.