By Katrina Loutzenhiser, ONS Director of Learning and Development

During an inspirational panel discussion at the 48th Annual ONS Congress® that moved many to tears, ONS wrapped up its Leadership Development Committee (LDC) 2022–2023 Young Leaders pilot program in late April 2023.

“Having members of the LDC share their time and wisdom with me has given me the courage to dream bigger. I found a lot of inspiration being in a program with peers that were driven and eager to strengthen their leadership skills,” ONS member and young leader participant Ashley Pratt, BSN, RN, OCN®, said.

Building a Solid Leadership Foundation

The program initiated in July 2022, when seven ONS member leaders under age 40, representing diverse oncology nursing backgrounds around the world, began working with the LDC and past ONS Board members to advance their leadership skills.

“This program has given me valuable tools that will help me to be better prepared to lead the development of the APN role in Chile, by learning from and interacting with accomplished mentors from ONS,” ONS member and young leader participant Magdalena Correa Duque, APRN, MSN, FNP-BC, said.

The participants met monthly as a group with the LDC, met monthly one-on-one with their LDC mentor, met quarterly with a Board liaison, and studied a plethora of articles, books, and videos. Each assignment functioned as one brick in building a solid leadership foundation; assembled together, those bricks allowed the young leaders to expand their leadership to the next level.

“The Young Leaders Program has been a pivotal moment in my nursing career by equipping me with the knowledge and skills to be an effective leader in my organization and within the oncology nursing profession as a whole,” ONS member and young leader participant Ryne Wilson, DNP, RN, OCN®, said.

Young Leaders Carry Lifetime Connections Forward as 2022–2023 Pilot Program Concludes
2022–2023 Class of Mentors

Creating a Lifelong Personal and Professional Network

Reporting on their experience and its personal and professional impact during the April 2023 panel discussion, the young leaders said that the program taught them the importance of understanding their leadership style, leveraging their strengths to become a better leader, and publishing to advance knowledge of the oncology nursing profession. They praised the one-on-one mentorship with an LDC member who is knowledgeable in both general leadership and the inner workings of ONS leadership as well as their small and diverse cohort that allowed them to learn from each other and develop lifetime relationships.

“Representation matters. There is just something about seeing someone that looks like you achieving the things you hope to accomplish one day. It makes your dreams feel like an attainable reality,” ONS member and young leader participant Holly Tenaglia, DNP, APRN, AGCNS-BC, OCN®, said.

Growing Future ONS Young Leaders

“The launch of our Young Leaders pilot program represents an important milestone for ONS as we develop these nurses for future leadership in ONS, oncology nursing, and beyond,” LDC Past Chair Donald “Chip” Bailey, PhD, RN, FAAN, said.

Although the monthly sessions concluded, the data collection timeline continues.

  • During the program, the LCD measured participants’ engagement, confidence, and advancement in their personal and professional roles.
  • Now, the LDC is seeking feedback from the young leaders’ managers about how the participants grew throughout the program.
  • In October 2023, the young leaders will complete a six-month assessment about how their experience with the program continues to affect them.

After all data have been collected, the LDC will summarize the findings and assess the pilot program’s success to determine the next steps in developing future generations of ONS leaders.

To the delight of ONS leaders and audience members alike at the April 2023 panel discussion, the young leaders said they plan to publish about their time with the program. “Oncology nursing doesn’t know about your journey,” ONS Director-at-Large Gigi Robison, MSN, RN, AOCN®, said, emphasizing the importance of sharing their learning experience.

“You are the future,” ONS Past President Laura Fennimore, DNP, RN, CNE, NEA-BC, FAAN, said. “I am inspired by all of you because of the hope you bring to us."