We Have So Much to Celebrate in Nursing and Cancer Science This Year
May is the month we celebrate nursing across the world. May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday, is International Nurses Day, designated as such since 1974 by the International Council of Nurses. This year’s theme is Nurses: A Voice to Lead, A Vision for Future Health Care in recognition of nursing's role on the front lines of the pandemic.
A Free Lunch Doesn’t Exist: How I Became an ONS Health Policy Advocate
For a long time, like so many other nurses, I thought of myself as the “regular kind” of advocate for my patients, speaking out for their needs on an individual basis at the institutional level while supporting them as they navigate a cancer diagnosis. But I’ve more recently discovered an even more empowering role: I’m now a health policy advocate.
Betty Ferrell Receives 2021 ONS Lifetime Achievement Award
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.
Shared Governance Committees Empower Nurses to Use Their Voice
Oncology nursing awakens a sense of purpose that drives us to be true patient advocates. As chair of my institution’s shared governance committee, I have found that being conduits for our patients empowers nurses to find solutions that take care to the next level. It’s driven me to find better outcomes, care, and treatment for my patients simply because their health is important to me. I am at the bedside for my patients’ entire cancer journey.
Nurses Help NIH Clinical Center Kick Off COVID-19 Vaccinations
Is anyone a better champion of the importance of vaccines to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic than a nurse? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) doesn’t think so. During a late-December videocast at the NIH Clinical Center, prominent healthcare leaders, including nurses, received the Moderna vaccine to demonstrate that it is safe and effective and to encourage others to get inoculated.
Coalitions Cement Nursing’s—and ONS’s—Position in Health Policy
Through two letters—one to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and another to U.S. Senate and House leaders—the Nursing Community Coalition, on whose steering committee ONS sits, congratulated policymakers while outlining the need for continued support of nurses in health care.
Nurses Exemplify Pandemic Response and Preparedness Report
A nurse was the first U.S. citizen to receive the COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine. Biden also recently appointed a nurse to the COVID-19 advisory board. Clearly the country recognizes nurses’ consistent power and trustworthiness, and nurses can use that power to educate the public about the Biden administration’s tactics to get vaccines to the rest of the country and control the spread.
Celebrate Oncology Nurse Leaders During Black History Month
Each year, February marks Black History Month: a time of celebration, recognition, and awareness of the countless accomplishments and achievements of black leaders and trailblazers throughout history. In the oncology nursing community, it’s no different. ONS’s African American leaders have made a lasting difference to patients with cancer and the professional community, paving the way for future generations and championing excellence in oncology nursing.
Nurses Break Record as Most Trusted Profession for 19 Years Running
The World Health Organization’s Year of the Nurse didn’t go as planned in 2020. Instead, Americans were forced to navigate unprecedented stressors, but among the conflict, fear, and uncertainty, nursing remained the most trusted profession in the United States, earning a record-breaking 89% score on the 2020 Gallup Honesty and Ethics poll, four percentage points greater than the profession’s 2019 rating. Trust has to be earned, and not only have nurses done so, but they continue to foster and grow trust for in an unparalleled way.
Biden Appoints Nurse to COVID-19 Advisory Board
Shortly after declaring victory in the 2020 president election, the Biden-Harris transition team created a bipartisan COVID-19 advisory board. Staffed by experts, the board was hailed as a science-driven committee eager to flatten the curve. However, it had one downfall: it lacked a nurse. In response to a viral petition for nurse representation, the transition team appointed Seattle, WA, nurse Jane Hopkins, RNMH, to the advisory board on November 28, 2020.
Health Care Reunites a Divided Nation
The November 2020 presidential election saw a historic turnout at the polls. Before election day, more than 99 million of the 240 million registered American voters had already cast their ballots, and some predicted that as many as 155 million voters would exercise their constitutional franchise to make their voices heard, a record 65% of the electorate. The distinct differences between the two major presidential candidates indicated that people were engaged and took to heart the grand idea of participatory democracy.
AMA, AHA, ANA Send Trump Administration Letter Encouraging Transition
The Biden transition team needs full cooperation and all critical information regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus, he American Medical Association (AMA), American Hospital Association (AHA) and American Nurses Association (ANA) said in a November 2020 letter to the Trump administration.
Nursing Innovation Links Rural Facilities to Resources and Experts to Provide High-Quality Care Across the Country
When a patient comes to the doctor’s office with a generalized symptom such as an ongoing cough or chest heaviness, they are bound to have anxiety. In Wayne’s case, a patient with a lung mass that was identified unexpectedly, his anxiety was further compounded by feeling alone: his wife has dementia and his grown children live out of state. He also lives in a rural area and must drive a significant distance to get to a center for testing and diagnosis.
Kansas ONS Chapters Advocate for Health Policy With Federal and State Leaders
Over the summer, I coordinated a now all-too-familiar exercise: a Zoom call with multiple ONS Kansas-area chapter members, nurse experts, patient advocates, and elected officials. Spearheaded by the ONS National Office, we hosted an incredibly personal and informative conversation to discuss the COVID-19 coronavirus, how it affects patients with cancer, and the legislative and regulatory environment throughout our state. Our bipartisan, multitiered event brought together oncology nurses from across the state, and, although some political views were different, we united in our commitment to nurses and public health.
ONS Calls for Action to Support the Nurse’s Role in Reducing the Global Burden of Cancer
Nurses serve a critical and proven role in reducing the burden of cancer and improving the lives of patients with cancer. Yet, for millions of people across the globe, access to health care is not a given, and nurses don’t have the educational and occupational support to perform to their full abilities.
100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage Reminds Us of the Power of Our Vote
The revolutionary declaration written 244 years ago, proclaiming that “all men are created equal,” maintains that a true democracy must be based on an individual’s right to vote and the freedom to exercise that power at the ballot box. Since 1998, women voters have embodied that concept, achieving a majority vote with higher rates than men. Of registered women voters, 55% went to the polls in 2018, compared to only 51% of registered men. Yet today women account for only 23.2% of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 26% of the U.S. Senate.
The Public Trusts Nurses’ Voices During Health Emergencies
The cacophony that echoes through the 24-hour news cycle can be heavy on an average day but overwhelming during a global health pandemic. That is why relying on a trusted voice is essential when attempting to understand how to deal with the voluminous information that bombards us through radio, television, emails, social media, and any other channels that deem themselves news outlets these days.
Word Choice Matters When Caring for Patients With Cancer
Oncology nurses use many tools to help our patients, but one of the most effective is our words. However, our terminology may be overwhelming to patients and feel like medical jargon. We also often use terms to describe how a patient is experiencing cancer, reporting adverse events, noncompliance, failing treatment, and palliative care, which can be confusing and misleading.
Nurses Are Leading Change and Advancing Health With Lean Methodology
Strong leadership is critical in redesigning health care—and nurse leaders in particular need to take responsibility for identifying problems and areas of waste, devising and implementing a plan for improvement, tracking this improvement over time, and making necessary adjustments to realize established goals.
Did COVID-19 Transform Traditional American Politics?
Mastering the rules and regulations of democracy has been a capital city—both federal and state—game of power for more than 200 years. Those written, and too often presumed, procedures govern the process and provide a roadmap for legislators to strategize on how best to advance their agendas and campaign promises.
Provider Groups Announce Campaign Urging Public to #WearAMask
Wearing a mask is critical to slowing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but the public hasn’t always been compliant. In an effort to provide education and understanding, the American Nurses Association, American Medical Association, and American Hospital Association joined forces to promote a new public health awareness campaign.
House of Representatives; Nurse Scientists; Women in Congress
Cori Bush, a nurse and Black Lives Matter activist, beat U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay (D-MO), a sitting 20-year incumbent, to win the Democratic nomination in St. Louis, MO. Bush will be the newest nurse to U.S. Congress, should she win her seat in November, which is highly likely. She’d join the ranks of U.S. Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) to bring a critical nursing perspective directly to the United States’ legislative branch.
Nurse-Turned-Policymaker; Prescription Drug Reform; Safer Working Conditions
As one of the youngest members of the 2018 freshman congressional class, U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL) has already made quite a name for herself. Eschewing, for the most part in this heightened environment, partisanship and instead concentrating on health and economic issues, the representative champions access and affordability for all Americans.
Nurses in Media; COVID-19 Scope of Practice
The media fails to represent nurses as leaders in health care. Only 2% of health articles included nurses as sources, Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, and colleagues reported in a 2017 study. In a June 26, 2020, opinion piece published in USA Today, Mason called on universities and medical institutes to offer more nurses as sources for journalists, rather than just physicians.
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.
Racism and COVID-19; Nurses in Politics; Combat Social Determinants
A multitude of factors influenced by institutional inequality, such as underlying health conditions and employment opportunities, are to blame for the COVID-19 coronavirus’s disproportional effects on African Americans, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. His remarks were part of a June 23, 2020, testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Nurses Have a Role and Responsibility in Ending Racism
“There’s no way you can extricate what’s been going on and the outcomes of the (COVID-19 coronavirus) from the basic racism and social injustice and inequities that have existed in this country for so many years,” American Academy of Nursing Living Legend Catherine Alicia Georges, EdD, RN, FAAN, said in a June 17, 2020, podcast. “The chronicity of racism is the issue.”
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.
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.
Innovative Clinics Help Patients Safely Access Cancer Care During COVID-19
No longer just a convenience, drive-throughs are an essential part of social distancing during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Retailers and healthcare providers alike have taken it beyond the typical food, prescriptions, and banking, offering everything from merchandise to virus testing—and now, thanks to the innovation of two oncology nurses, cancer care.
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.
COVID-19 Reminds Us That Nurses Are Health Diplomats for Humanity
In early March, I developed fatigue, mild shortness of breath, and a dry cough, so, following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, I called the triage line at my primary care clinic. The nurse with whom I spoke offered me an appointment that same day.
Prevent a Global Nursing Shortage by Investing in Nursing’s Future, WHO Says
The world needs to invest in nursing education, jobs, and leadership if it intends to prevent the projected global shortage of nurses by 2030, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on April 6, 2020, in its State of the World’s Nursing 2020 report, a first-of-its kind look at nurses’ critical role in international health care.
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.”
Research Suggests New Nurses Could Help Address the Ambulatory Staffing Issue
As use of ambulatory care settings continues to grow, so too does the demand for expertly trained nurses to staff them. Unfortunately, nurse staffing levels have struggled to meet the burgeoning need in ambulatory clinics throughout the country. Traditionally, undergraduates receive limited ambulatory-specific education in nursing school, leaving them unprepared to enter those settings after graduation. However, the nursing shortage complicates staffing issues, and we must develop programs to direct new graduate nurses into ambulatory oncology careers.
AACN Initiative Gives Nurses a Voice Through Voting
During the Year of the Nurse, many organizations are finding ways to promote and champion the expertise and experiences that make up the most trusted profession in the United States. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is focusing on ways nurses will affect the upcoming presidential election, ensuring nursing professionals are registered, educated, and ready to vote in 2020.
Nurses Lead Charge for HPV Prevention
Only 65% of all U.S. teens have received the first dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine—and only 48.6% of those teens are up to date with the series of HPV vaccinations. Studies have shown the HPV vaccination is effective at reducing the rates of cervix, vaginal, anal, and penile cancers. HPV vaccination rates have become a national health prevention priority, and oncology nurses can help lead the discussion about ways to prevent more than 90% of all HPV-related cancers.
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.
Donna Clark Was an Advocate for Compassionate Nursing Care
ONS member Donna Clark, RN, BSN, OCN®, was a dedicated oncology nurse whose impact changed the lives of countless patients with cancer for more than 30 years. Clark passed away on February 4, 2020, after a storied career as an oncology nurse and cancer survivor. Her experiences as both patient and healthcare professional allowed her to cross the gap, relate to patients, and empathize with their cancer journey. Her focus on nursing excellence left a lasting impact on the profession and resonates throughout the larger oncology nursing community.
Nurses Will Forge New Territory With Biosimilars in Cancer Care
Although cancer biosimilars have been used in European countries and in U.S. supportive care for some time, biologic medications are still new to cancer treatment in the United States. With greater support coming in at the federal level and from agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission, the rising biosimilar tide could soon reach a new highwater mark for healthcare professionals—and nurses specifically.
How We’re Growing Nursing’s Voice in the Health News Media
The Woodhull Study on Nurses and the Media: Health Care’s Invisible Partner showed that nurses were quoted in only 4% of health stories in the news media. In 2018, Mason and team published the Woodhull Study Revisited: Nurses’ Representation in Health News Media 20 Years Later. They found that after two decades, only 2% of health stories in the news media quoted nurses; although not statistically significant, the decrease is still a concern. The 1998 study identified that nurses were just starting to move into positions of authority in healthcare systems, a status that might make them more available for journalists. Yet in 2018, nurses occupied more healthcare leadership positions in diverse sectors but were still not being used as expert sources by journalists. Why?
Nurses Most Trusted Profession for 18 Years in Row
More than engineers, accountants, professors, or police officers, nurses lead the pack when it comes to honesty and ethics, according to 2019 Gallup polling data. For 18 years in a row, nurses have been recognized as the most trusted profession in the United States—by a considerable margin, too. Ratings for nursing honesty and ethics outpaced every other profession by a wide margin, and nurses lead the next most trusted profession—engineers—by nearly 20 percentage points.
WHO Developing State of the World’s Nursing Report
In celebration and recognition of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife.” As part of this initiative, WHO is holding seminars, publishing papers, and is developing the first-ever State of the World’s Nursing report which will release at the 73rd World Health Assembly.
Nurses Must Understand Health Disparities to Provide Effective Patient Education
Issues pertaining to geography, socioeconomic status, or racial or ethnic background can prohibit patients from accessing the treatment and care they need to successfully navigate their cancer diagnosis. Connecting patients to healthcare professionals and tailored interventions that educate, motivate, and reduce barriers can be a tremendous boon for their care and ultimately their outcomes.
Every Year Is the Year of the Nurse
Celebrations are planned around the globe for 2020 to recognize the impact that nurses make on the health and well-being of our communities. What’s the occasion? The World Health Organization has designated it the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, in honor of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. This exciting year will culminate with the end of the three-year, international Nursing Now! campaign designed to raise the profile and status of nurses worldwide. And we’ll look forward to the release of the new Future of Nursing 2020–2030 consensus study from the National Academy of Medicine that will describe how nurses can help people to get and stay healthy.
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.
New Patient Education Formats Help Nurses Connect Patients to Individualized Resources
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” Benjamin Franklin wrote. for oncology nurses and their patients, this couldn’t be more apt. Patient education is critical throughout the cancer journey, and nurses are essential to individualizing that education.
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.