Betty Ferrell Receives 2021 ONS Lifetime Achievement Award

April 15, 2021

PITTSBURGH, PA—April 15, 2021—With nearly half a century of outstanding contributions to the field of oncology nursing, ONS member Betty Ferrell, PhD, MA, CHPN, FAAN, FPCN, was selected by the ONS Board of Directors to receive the Society’s 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award ( Ferrell is the director of the division of nursing research and education at City of Hope in Duarte, CA, principal investigator of the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium ( (ELNEC) project, and a world-renowned author and lecturer.  

ONS member Betty Ferrell, PhD, MA, CHPN, FAAN, FPCN
ONS member Betty Ferrell, PhD, MA, CHPN, FAAN, FPCN

“I am so honored to receive this award from ONS,” Ferrell said. “It has been a great privilege to be a part of oncology nursing for the past 44 years and to witness the role of nursing in improving care for patients and families.” 

The ONS Lifetime Achievement Award is given annually at ONS Congress™. It recognizes an ONS member who makes outstanding contributions to the field of oncology nursing and who has been a leader in the Society and community. Ferrell joined a group of nearly 30 individuals ( to receive the award since 2002.  

Ferrell ( has dedicated her life to oncology nursing. In 1977 she began her career as a staff nurse in a 40-bed oncology unit and, after witnessing the focus on cure and treatment evolution rather than patient quality of life, Ferrell said she was inspired to improve pain management for patients with cancer. Through her master’s thesis, she discovered the hospice care model and began working with colleagues in the early stages of the holistic, palliative care specialty. She went on to receive a PhD in nursing focusing on palliative care and, in 1989, began her role as a nurse scientist in oncology at City of Hope, a research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases, where she remains.  

Throughout her research career she’s received more than $70 million in grant funding as a principal investigator. Today she leads ELNEC, a program that has trained more than one million nurses and other clinicians in 100 countries and all 50 states on palliative and end-of-life care.  

As a prolific author and lecturer, Ferrell has spoken internationally, earned numerous lectureship awards, and published more than 480 journal articles, holding the record for the most Oncology Nursing Forum ( articles of any author at 49.  

Ferrell has earned numerous accomplishments and awards, including: fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, member of the National Academy of Medicine, American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Walther Cancer Foundation Palliative and Supportive Care Award, and Sigma Theta Tau’s Episteme Laureate Award. 

“Betty Ferrell’s career-long contributions to palliative care and cancer survivorship are ingrained in the core of oncology nursing practice. Her influence has improved the quality of life for millions with cancer across the globe,” ONS President Nancy Houlihan, MA, RN, AOCN®, said. “She is truly a legend to oncology nurses for guiding our commitment to the ongoing needs of patients with cancer, and no one is more deserving of the ONS Lifetime Achievement award than she is.”  

ONS is a professional association that represents 100,000 nurses and is the professional home to more than 35,000 members. ONS is committed to promoting excellence in oncology nursing and the transformation of cancer care. Since 1975, ONS has provided a professional community for oncology nurses, developed evidence-based education programs and treatment information, and advocated for patient care, all in an effort to improve quality of life and outcomes for patients with cancer and their families. Learn more at ( 

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