As I start this amazing adventure as your new ONS president, I can’t help but pause and reflect on how I got here.
Those of you who know me say that I am an organized, motivated, dedicated oncology nurse who is proud to be involved in ONS. What I’ve never had was a specific five-year plan. Instead, I’ve had role models: individuals who inspired me, recognized my potential, and often channeled my energy in the right direction.
Sonia Sotomayor in her memoir says that “models that appear in books or on the news . . . are too remote to be real, let alone influential. But a role model in the flesh provides more than an inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities."
I have been inspired by fellow nurses such as Angela, Jan, Jill, and Jean who provide the best care possible. When I was a new staff nurse, Elaine Glass demonstrated for me what it was like to be a clinical nurse specialist (CNS). I was enthralled with how she taught patients, advocated for efficient delivery of care and educated new oncology nurses about how to administer chemotherapy. I was inspired, so I studied and became a CNS.
Fiaga Jamaldin encouraged me to join ONS. “They have the resources to help you learn and care for your patients,” she said. So I used ONS resources to develop standards of care for our Stem Cell Transplant Unit.
A few years later, I was introduced to Linda Workman, an expert educator who could make the most complex concepts understandable. With her encouragement, I earned a PhD and became a researcher and oncology nursing educator.
Carol Roe encouraged me to advocate for nursing and obtain certification. She would be pleased to know that I’ve talked with legislators about how nurses impact quality cancer care.
While serving on the ONS Board of Directors, I observed Presidents Brenda Nevidjon and Carl Brown strategically leading our organization. I thought to myself, “Maybe I could do that,” and now, here I am. Most importantly, all of the nurses who inspired me taught me the importance of encouraging and guiding others.
Look around for colleagues who you’d like to emulate. Make sure that you take the time to thank your role models and to encourage colleagues in their important roles in cancer care. One way I’ve found to recognize my mentors is through a donation to the ONS Foundation. I’ve also made donations in honor of my mentees.
Oncology nursing is a team effort, and I look forward to the possibilities ahead for all of us!