When ONS Speaks, People Listen

October 29, 2018 by Laura Fennimore DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, 2018-2020 ONS President

It is no accident that this newsletter is called ONS Voice nor that advocacy is one of ONS’s core values. Nurses have been the most trusted profession for more than 22 years, according the Gallup Polls (https://news.gallup.com/poll/224639/nurses-keep-healthy-lead-honest-ethical-profession.aspx).

The public counts on us to be ethical and honest. Borrowing a phrase from the old E.F. Hutton commercials, “when ONS members speak, people listen.” Every day we advocate on behalf of people with cancer and their families in our workplaces, delivering quality cancer care at the chairside and bedside by offering better symptom management, seeking answers to complex questions about treatment plans and options, and providing care based on the very best evidence. We advocate for our patients and for oncology nurses in our board rooms and at policymaking tables, including those in the U.S. Congress.

In early September 2018, nearly 100 nurses representing approximately 75 chapters from 33 states participated in the third Annual ONS Hill Days in Washington, DC, and completed 141 visits with their representatives and senators. The enthusiasm was contagious as engaged and well-prepared ONS members raised their collective voices about four priority ONS bills:

Most Hill Day participants had little or no experience in this type of advocacy work; however, they were well supported with materials and training from the ONS Center for Advocacy and Health Policy staff and the leadership of veteran members who have participated in prior ONS advocacy events.

Alec Stone, ONS director of public affairs, reminded participants that oncology nurses are not lobbyists. We are, however, trusted healthcare providers with stories of individual patients and families who have been touched by each of these issues.

ONS members shared their stories, and congressional offices listened. Following our visits, more than 19 additional cosponsors were added to our key priority bills. ONS members developed contacts with their federal representatives and their staff that we hope will be just the beginning of many beautiful relationships.

As this important midterm election approaches, my hope is that all ONS members recognize the importance of raising our collective voices as we elect our next leaders at the local, state, and federal level on November 6. In the words of former First Lady Michelle Obama (https://newsone.com/2064122/michelle-obama-campaign-2), “It is more important than ever that we show up to vote, not just this year, but every year and in every election. Every voice must be heard, and every vote must be counted.”

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