FDA Launches Pilot Program on Patient-Reported Outcomes
Facilitating the provision of patient-centered care is an ONS priority. But until recently, quality information from the patient’s perspective was limited. This kind of information is often unavailable, limited in its breadth, or solicited from patients too late in the healthcare process, making their experience less understandable than necessary. In response, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Oncology Center of Excellence created a pilot program, called Project Patient Voice, that will make patient-reported symptoms from cancer trials available to the public.
NIH Appoints New NINR Director
Beginning this fall, the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) will have a nurse in a permanent position to lead the agency. On July 1, 2020, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) named Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, as its new director. Zenk is currently a nursing collegiate professor in the Department of Population Health Nursing Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing, and a fellow at the UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy.
NINR Addresses Racism and Reinforces Mission on Positive Health Outcomes
More research funding is needed to learn about and address health disparities in African Americans in the United States, Tara Schwetz, PhD, National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) acting director, said in an open letter to the research community. In the bold announcement, NINR recognized the unequal treatment of minorities and the need for enhanced dedication to promote equality in nursing research.
All Politics Is Local, and That’s Why You Should Get Involved in ONS Advocacy
One of the ways ONS celebrated Oncology Nursing Month in May was with CEO Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN, interviewing U.S. Representative Donna Shalala (D-FL) about advocacy and nursing. Miami ONS Chapter Board Member Lissette Gomez-Rios, MSN, OCN®, ONS Director-at-Large Anne Ireland, MSN, RN, AOCN®, CENP, and I also had the opportunity to ask Shalala some questions.
Nurses Obliged to End Racism; Tobacco Industry's Manipulative Marketing
Along with many other healthcare organizations, including ONS, last week the American Nurses Association (ANA) took a bold stand against racism, calling it a public health crisis. On June 12, 2020, ANA President Earnest Grant shared how racism is embedded in health care and what nurses should do to end it.
How the CARES Act and Other COVID-19 Laws Affect Nursing and Health Care
Like cancer, viruses know no political parties, no country boundaries, and no personal attributes. As the COVID-19 coronavirus spread in an infectious wave across the earth in record time, it decimated economies and devastated populations. To defend their countries against an invisible enemy, governments around the world stepped in with unprecedented command.
NCC Sends Letter to U.S. Congress Outlining COVID-19 Priorities
Fifty-seven organizations representing the Nursing Community Coalition (NCC), including ONS, sent a letter to the U.S. Congress acknowledging the federal government’s extraordinary attempts to bolster the economy and promote public health during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. In the April 28, 2020, letter, NCC provided recommendations that could be used to further combat the coronavirus, adding that the 57 national nursing organizations are available as expert resources.
Proposed Bill Would Expand Health Workforce in Underserved Communities
The global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has forced elected officials and political leaders to reevaluate the provision of health care in the United States. To address inequal access to care and representation among health professionals, on April 24, 2020, U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Democratic Whip and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Health Heroes 2020 Act, a bicameral piece of legislation.
NIH Partners With Johnson and Johnson to Combat COVID-19
Long hailed as the “crown jewel” of the U.S. government’s biomedical research division, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is partnering with Johnson and Johnson for a coordinated, team-based effort to find measures with meaningful impact on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Healthcare for All Is a Competing Idea in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election
When standing up for patients, championing treatments, or stopping an unfair process, nurses speak truth to power. Being on the front lines is part of every nurse’s routine, but many shy away from engaging in the policy world under similar circumstances that affect the profession, patients, and peers. It doesn’t have to be that way. Nurses can educate themselves on the candidates and policy issues and lend their voice to the political conversation.
Federal Agencies Collaborate; Nurse Proposes Healthcare Bill; NCI Shifts Research to COVID-19
It’s all hands on deck to combat a pandemic from an unknown virus, and researchers everywhere—even from seemingly unrelated disciplines like oncology—are jumping in to study tests, vaccines, and treatments. Effective May 5, 2020, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is partnering with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other federal agencies to research antibody tests for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
A Perspective on COVID-19 for New and Student Nurses
COVID-19 coronavirus’s ripple effects extend so far beyond health and health care. Life in the United States doesn’t look the same as it did a few months ago. We’re all affected in some way, but senior nursing students have a distinct set of circumstances related to the pandemic.
Legislators Urge President to Respond to PPE Shortage
Healthcare providers still lack sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely treat patients with COVID-19 coronavirus. Citing insufficient federal coordination, members of Congress urged the Trump administration follow through on implementing the $16 million PPE funding provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
PPE Protests; COVID-19 Health Disparities; Nursing Home Fears
On April 21, 2020, a handful of nurses protested outside the White House to urge the president to respond to the critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE)—and other nurses around the country have been speaking out as well.
Vaping, E-Cigarettes, and Flavored Tobacco Are Reversing 20 Years of Decreasing Smoking Rates
The public push for a transformation in tobacco policy began with a persistent legislator seeking real change. Opening his historic congressional hearing in 1994, U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) said, “The truth is that cigarettes are the single most dangerous consumer product ever sold. Nearly a half million Americans die every year as a result of tobacco. This is an astounding, almost incomprehensible statistic. Imagine our nation’s outrage if two fully loaded jumbo jets crashed each day, killing all aboard. Yet that is the same number of Americans that cigarettes kill every 24 hours. Sadly, this deadly habit begins with our kids. Each day 3,000 children will begin smoking. In many cases they become hooked quickly and develop a life-long addiction that is nearly impossible to break.”
'Lost on the Front Lines'; Physicians Campaign Congress; Policymakers on COVID-19
Healthcare workers in the United States accounted for 20% of all deaths caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to date. The Guardian and Kaiser Health News partnered to document every healthcare worker who’s died from COVID-19 in response to the absence of a reliable nationwide database.
International Position Statement Calls for Advocacy for COVID-19 in Oncology Nurses and Patients With Cancer
Oncology nurses must advocate for prevention and control of the COVID-19 coronavirus to minimize the risk to themselves and the patients with cancer in their care, the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care (ISNCC) announced in its April 2, 2020, COVID-19 Position Statement. ONS is a full member of ISNCC.
Title VIII Nursing Workforce Funding Included in CARES Act
The business shutdowns and mandatory social distancing from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic brought the country’s economy to the brink. Last week, the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019 was included as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s comprehensive, landmark legislation. The $2 trillion aid package was geared to promote public health and boost economic confidence.
Public Policies Protect Healthcare Worker Safety During COVID-19
One of the highest health policy priorities for the nursing community during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is to ensure the safety of healthcare workers, particularly regarding the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).
WHO Director-General Encourages Global Collaboration to ‘Flatten the Curve’
As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to circle the globe, nations look to a strong source that can help coordinate information and provide insight for all people. Under the leadership of the director-general, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been that trustworthy entity. Tracking, reporting, and coordinating COVID-19’s many aspects, WHO is a hub that allows public health officials worldwide to receive information in real time.
Democrats Draft Fourth COVID-Response Bill; Trump Extends Social Distancing; Some Legislation Perpetuates Nursing Shortage
On March 30, 2020, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives began drafting a fourth COVID-19 coronavirus relief package to include substantial infrastructure investments, said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi said the legislation could be ready for a vote by late April.
State Legislatures Are Incubators for Advocacy Advancement
“To stay experimentation in things social and economic is a grave responsibility. Denial of the right to experiment may be fraught with serious consequences to the nation. It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
Today, More Than Ever, Nurses Are Imperative to the World of Healthcare Advocacy
By all accounts, the 2020 political environment is one of the most contentious in American history. The two parties that dominate the political system, liberal and conservative, are even more entrenched in their separate ideals and doubling down during the presidential election cycle. The federal budget, immigration, and health care are the top issues discussed around the watercooler, kitchen table, and coffee shops—and of course the president’s impeachment is looming large.
Legislation Raises Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21
Smoking cessation efforts had been gaining ground for decades. Tobacco use and smoking rates were dropping, year after year, as prevention and awareness campaigns worked to codify the dangers of tobacco. People weren’t just quitting smoking; people were avoiding the habit altogether—until the advent of vaping. Reversing a decade-long decline in smoking rates, e-cigarettes and vaping products have engendered an entirely new generation of would-be smokers to pick up the habit. Targeting underage users, the vaping industry experienced a boom. The issue grew with such ferocity that the U.S. Surgeon General declared a youth vaping epidemic in 2019.
Why It Takes So Long for a Healthcare Bill to Become a Law
Constitutional provisions, whose primary purposes are to create obstacles, govern the process that a bill goes through before it becomes law. The founders believed that efficiency was the hallmark of oppressive government, and they wanted to be sure that laws that actually passed all the hurdles were the well-considered result of inspection by many eyes.
Two ONS Health Policy Priorities Pass the House, Thanks to 2019 Capitol Hill Days
Participants in ONS’s Fourth Annual Capitol Hill Days quickly saw the fruits of their efforts when two ONS priority bills were passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in October 2019. The yearly advocacy, education, and training event, held September 22–24, brought 110 ONS activists to Washington, DC, for two days of sessions, briefings, updates, and meetings. The advocates engaged in 55 hours of intensive political and policy analysis, enabling them to take the Society’s health policy priority agenda to the U.S. Congress and help transform the future of health care in the United States.
NCI’s 2021 Budget Plan Showcases Its Promise to Provide for, Foster, and Aid Cancer Research
Once considered a death sentence, a cancer diagnosis was distressing and difficult on many levels. However, for the past 50 years the United States has been committed to finding treatments and cures for cancer; we have turned a corner, reversing devastating trends and changing the prognosis to one of survivorship for many.
U.S. House of Representatives Passes Two ONS Priority Bills
ONS is a critical voice in the advocacy arena, helping to steward bills that are important to the future of oncology nursing practice and successful patient-centered care. On October 28, 2019, two ONS priority bills—the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (H.R. 647) and the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 728)—passed the U.S. House of Representatives with unanimous bipartisan support.
Texas Nurses Show Advocacy in Action by Bringing the Message Home to Policymakers
As the largest ONS chapter in the United States with more than 2,000 members, the Houston ONS Chapter is primed to make an impact with the state’s lawmakers. In August 2019, chapter members did just that, combining forces with other local chapters for a pilot event featuring ONS policy education and advocacy training deep in the heart of Texas. Almost 100 ONS members participated to get support and education to speak with decision makers about the needs of the profession as well as the patients oncology nurses serve.
CDC Vaping Illnesses; ONS Capitol Hill Days; CA Calls to End Vaping
Vaping has become a national health issue on Capitol Hill. With more teens than ever using the devices, along with reports connecting lung injury and respiratory illness with vaping, policymakers are eager to understand the problem and act swiftly. Part of the problem includes the high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol and nicotine in vaping products. Congress is working to address the problem through several legislative bills, but few are moving as fast as the public health impact seen in news reports.
Your Words Matter, So Use Them to Advocate for Change
When my son was in nursery school, his teachers encouraged him to express his frustration with others by “using his words” rather than lashing out in some other nonproductive way. I was reminded of the power of words delivered by a compelling speaker when watching a video of the comedian and advocate, Jon Stewart, testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee about the needs of 9/11 first responders. His passion was evident in his voice, in his emotionally laden pauses, and in the words that he used to describe the ongoing healthcare concerns of those heroes. His strong testimony moved the committee and House to support the legislation, pass it on to the Senate, and send it to President Trump’s desk, where he signed it into law in July 2019. Stewart told a convincing story to bring others to action.
House Committee Examines Juul’s Role in the Youth Smoking Epidemic
For nearly two decades, smoking rates among all ages were on the decline. Restrictions on marketing, sales, and distribution made it difficult for underage smokers to get their hands on traditional cigarettes, and adults were seeing the benefits of smoking cessation campaigns and education.
ONS Holds Fourth Annual Capitol Hill Days
On September 22–24, 2019, Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) will hold its Fourth Annual Capitol Hill Days in Washington, DC. The three-day education and advocacy event will prepare more than 100 oncology nurses to work with elected officials on health policy issues important to their patients and profession. Capitol Hill Days encourages nurses to be advocates and leaders in their communities and in their practice by helping ONS make a real difference in the national healthcare conversation.
Chapters Advocate for Patients and Nurses at Statewide Event in Annapolis
On March 26, 2019, more than 40 nurses came together at the Maryland General Assembly’s Senate President’s Conference Center for the Oncology Nurses Night in Annapolis. This was the Greater Baltimore Chapter of ONS’s (GBCONS’s) third advocacy trip to the statehouse, but it was the first statewide ONS event. All four Maryland chapters were active in planning the night, and many new advocates were inspired to speak out.
ONS Capitol Hill Days Preps Nurses for Advocacy
Oncology nurses advocate for their patients every day, and it’s easy to see firsthand the difference it can have in those patients’ and families’ lives. But there’s a way to make an even larger impact by using those same advocacy skills at the local, state, or even national level—potentially changing thousands or even millions of lives of patients, survivors, and families across the United States.
Washington Healthcare Option; Dems Campaign Complication; States Sue Drug Manufacturers
Washington is the first state in the country to offer a public insurance option to its residents after Governor Jay Inslee signed the bill into law on May 13, 2019. Is it any coincidence that Inslee is also running for president? Coming from a traditionally “blue” state with a strong progressive legislature allowed this Democratic candidate to deliver on a particularly interesting policy.
U.S. Rep Cummings Introduces Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act
After recent a best-selling book-turned-movie detailed her story, Henrietta Lacks’ extraordinary impact on cancer research. However, many more are still unaware of how her story, struggle with cancer, and tumor cells changed the face of cancer care. For that reason, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), along with a congressional delegation from both chambers, introduced legislation to both honor her role in history and improve access to medical research to traditionally underrepresented groups.
Advocate in Your Own Backyard
Advocacy is a pillar for both ONS and me, personally. As a professor, organizer, chapter leader, and now ONS president, engagement in oncology nursing issues is an essential part of what I do and who I am. In March 2019, I accompanied ONS staff along with my ONS Pittsburgh Chapter colleague, Grace Campbell, PhD, MSW, RN, CRRN, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, to meet with Congressional Representative Connor Lamb’s (D-PA) district office director.
Youth Tobacco Bills; GOP Pre-Existing Conditions Act; Patient Protections
In a bold move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced on Thursday that he would put forward a bill to raise the national age for tobacco product purchases to age 21. It’s a remarkable move on many levels, not the least of which is that McConnell is from Kentucky—a region of the country that produces tobacco products. More importantly though, McConnell made a public statement about the rise in youth consumption through vaping.
PCHETA Is Reintroduced to Congress With Fast Tracked Status
For more than five years, the cancer advocacy community—along with the larger healthcare environment—has presented and promoted a comprehensive piece of legislation focusing on patient-centered care, palliative care training, and hospice education. Advocates are familiar with the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA)—an initiative that contains many of ONS’s policy priorities and one that ONS members have lobbied for on Capitol Hill.
Trump Releases 2020 Draft Presidential Budget—and Here’s What it Means for Health-Related Funding
Each spring marks a new budget season in Washington, DC. It’s a time of year that provides a glimpse into policy priorities for the fiscal year. In March 2019, the Office of Management and Budget released its 2020 funding allocations for the entire federal government. The budget was comprised after each federal department spent the preceding months looking at their previous year’s budget and outlined programmatic priorities that align with the president’s agenda.
Health Policy Begins With You: Educate Your Representatives in Cancer Care
As an oncology advanced practice nurse and administrator for cancer services, every day I care for patients and caregivers coping with cancer. I mentor nursing staff in best practices to deliver care, and I create a work environment conducive to advancing quality cancer care. However, my commitment to supporting people with cancer does not end at the walls of my workplace. Oncology nurses are called to be a visible change agent in our communities—and beyond—to continue the worthy work of championing quality care for people diagnosed with cancer, along with spreading prevention and early detection information.
Providing Expert Testimony in the Virginia State Senate
In early January 2019, I had the opportunity to represent ONS before the Virginia State Senate Finance Committee on the growing epidemic of electronic cigarettes and vaping device use among youth. In Richmond, VA, I delivered testimony about the dangerous health ramifications of this newer trend of tobacco use.
FDA Commissioner Advocates Against Smoking, New Vaping Devices
When heads of federal regulatory agencies are health and medical professionals with years of research experience, their background helps guide the mission and vision of the department along with the direction of thousands of staff and employees engaged in implementing health policy. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, MD, is a clinician and activist, and he acts as a staunch advocate for public health issues—namely the dangers of tobacco use, especially among young Americans.
Experience the Power of Patient-Centered Research Through PCORI
How often have you gone to the mailbox, pulled out your latest issue of the or , and excitedly read about some innovative study with game-changing outcomes that’ll revolutionize the delivery of health care—only to find that it never moves off the pages of the journal? What does it take to move research from the proverbial bench to the community? That was the focus of the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), “ ” held from October 31–November 2, 2018, in Washington DC.
VA Specialist Shortage; Rising Drug Prices; King Won't Seek Reelection
On the heels of celebrating our nation’s servicemembers on Veterans Day, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued a report that indicated it was struggling to treat veterans with cancer because of a lack of healthcare specialists. For years, the VA has faced challenges with filling hospital job openings in all positions. The resulting administrative and oversight issues are only hurting those most in need of its services. To find out that cancer incidence rates are higher in those who’ve been a part of active war zones—and that the agency is unable to meet their needs—is a sad state for our nation’s vets.
Government Shutdown; ACA Ruled Invalid; Medicare for All Push
On January 3, 2019, the newly elected, Democrat-controlled House of Representatives introduced legislation to reopen the federal government and end the current shutdown. It’s not about the money, which is usually the case; it’s about the blame. The border wall funding—in whatever capacity—is politically driving the shutdown. But Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that he knows the president will veto. Democrats want that to happen to force the president to either accept the blame for the shutdown or to cave without funding for the wall and reopen the government.
What the Midterm Election Results Mean for Health Policy in 2019
Election results may appear to be seismic shifts, jarring the foundations of the American political system to its core as voters stare in disbelief, attempting to translate the meaning of the public’s intent. But is that really the case?