Meet Your ONS Leader: Kristin Ferguson, DNP, RN, OCN®
Get to know Kristin Ferguson, DNP, RN, OCN®, treasurer on the ONS Board of Directors from 2019–2021 and director-at-large from 2019–2022. Kristin is the clinical operations manager/nurse manager III at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, DC.
How long have you been a nurse?
What led you to oncology nursing?
My first patient in my first nursing clinical rotation at Boston College was a man with lung cancer. That experience helped me begin to think about the long journey that patients with cancer have with their illness and the types of support they need. I realized during nursing school that I liked working not only with patients but also their families during difficult times.
What was your first experience with ONS?
I went to a local chapter dinner hosted by the National Capital ONS Chapter after a colleague advertised it on my surgical oncology unit. I loved meeting other oncology nurses from different hospitals and clinics in my city and learning about their experiences, all while eating a wonderful meal and getting nursing continuing professional development contact hours for listening to a presentation.
What role has ONS served in your career?
ONS has supported my growth as a leader like no other organization. I received an emerging leader scholarship in 2015 to attend Congress in Orlando, FL. I took on progressive leadership positions at the local board level and eventually was asked to attend the Cancer Moonshot Summit hosted in 2016 by Vice President Biden. ONS awarded me a DNP scholarship while I was at Duke and provided me with a scholarship to attend the Nurse in Washington Internship to learn more about cancer advocacy and how nurses can become involved in politics. I have had the opportunity to speak and teach at the national and international level with ONS and become a director-at-large on the national ONS Board of Directors. I can be a shy person, but I have been able to take advantage of the many offerings ONS has available and ONS has helped to educate me into being the oncology nursing leader I am today.
What relationships or connections have you made through ONS that you wouldn’t have found otherwise?
Several of my mentors in my career I first met through ONS. Past President Susan Schneider, PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN, came to speak at my hospital, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, and she eventually became my DNP advisor when I attended Duke University. Laura Fennimore, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, was ONS president in my first year on the ONS Board, and she (along with many others) was very welcoming to me as a new board member and encouraged me to speak up during Board meetings. I have various other members that I have collaborated with on different ONS projects that I have been thankful to meet and continue seeing at ONS Congress every year.
How did you get involved in ONS leadership?
I was encouraged by a colleague to run for a local board position, and after that, the rest was history—hearing about more opportunities, reading about openings on different ONS committees, and continuing to get to know other members helped me to grow as a leader.
What has been your proudest moment as an oncology nurse?
When I taught a breast cancer course with ONS and the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Manila, Philippines, in November 2018. It was a lot of work to put together curriculum and present materials, but the oncology nurses were eager to listen and learn. It was exciting to share the knowledge I understood so well with others.
What is your biggest challenge in oncology nursing today, and how can ONS help?
We have a critical need to develop more oncology nursing leaders to sustain a strong workforce. Everyone has different aspects of leadership inside of them, whether it is organizational and management skills, advocacy skills (for direct patient care or political advocacy for bills that will improve the quality of care available for patients), mentorship skills, or others, and ONS has the opportunity to help nurses grow in these skills to continue to provide the best care for patients.
What word would you say describes you?
What do you enjoy doing outside of nursing and why?
I enjoy staying active—whether it is physically (taking walks, running, doing yoga) or doing other things like reading, traveling, or cooking. Having multiple hobbies allow me to decompress from a sometimes-stressful week at work and help me to feel fulfilled in my life and return to my work refreshed and maintain my passion for it.