ONS Past President Sandra Schafer Leaves a Legacy of Compassionate Leadership
From her patients to her colleagues to the entire cancer care community, ONS Past President Sandra Lee Schafer, RN, MN, AOCN®, made everyone she touched feel special, inspiring and motivating a generation of oncology nurses in advancing care for patients with cancer. Schafer passed away on December 7, 2018, but her legacy of compassion and care lives on.
Board Looks at Ways to Involve More Members in Chapters
During the October 2018 board meeting held at the national office, the ONS Board of Directors heard reports from leadership and status reports on research and evidence-based practice work, discussed key initiatives, received an update from the Oncology Nursing Foundation, and reviewed and approved the Society’s operating budget for 2019. Additionally, two key generative discussions focused on the ongoing implementation of ONS chapter model changes and a review and strategy session around ONS position statements.
ONS Is Proud to Be Part of a City Stronger Than Hate
On an unseasonably warm Saturday in October, Pittsburgh, PA, was struck by one of the United States’ greatest tragedies in recent history. The shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill—a quiet, unassuming neighborhood in the heart of the city—sent shockwaves through the community, the country, and the world. On October 24, 2018, one man’s attack violently stole 11 lives from the Jewish community.
Chapters and Practice-Specific Topics Were on Board Agenda for August
ONS chapters, endorsed recommendations and guidelines, and the role of nurses caring for patients with cancer topped the ONS Board of Directors’ discussion topics during its August 2018 conference call meeting.
When ONS Speaks, People Listen
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, “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.”
Specialty Nursing 30 Years Later: Details May Change, but the Heart of Nursing Remains
While awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Florence last month, I took the opportunity to purge the proverbial closets. One contained dozens of VHS tapes. I had no need to keep most of them, but one caught my attention. “Focus: Specialty Nursing” was produced by the National Nursing Network. The video referenced how changes in the healthcare system were resulting in increased nursing specialization and a growing number of specialty nursing organizations. Leaders of specialty nursing organizations who were attending the National Federation of Specialty Nursing Organizations (NFSNO) annual meeting were interviewed. The tape is not dated, but I am guessing it was produced in the late 1980s because Deborah Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN, ONS president from 1987–1989, discussed oncology nursing.
What Do You Stand For?
Some lines are more memorable than others. In the Broadway musical Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton challenges Aaron Burr with this statement: “If you stand for nothin’, Burr, what will you fall for?”
I have stolen that line when teaching nurses about bullying and incivility in our workplaces. Unfortunately, this is a topic that we still need to talk about.
Congress, Board Goals, and More Are Key Discussions During June Board Meeting
Look for some new changes related to ONS Board of Directors activities during the 44th Annual ONS Congress in Anaheim, CA, in April 2019. During its June 2018 meeting, the Board discussed and made decisions about two Congress-related topics: the annual business meeting and the inclusion of leadership awareness.
Oncology Nursing’s Future—Preparing the Next ONS Strategic Plan
Each spring brings a flurry of annual meetings held by oncology organizations: Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and ONS’s. This year I attended all and was part of panel presentations at ACCC and AACR to bring the nursing perspective to the topics.
Future of Nursing Issues Top ONS Board’s Discussion in May
As the ONS Board of Directors held its first meeting with some of its newest members after the 43rd Annual ONS Congress in May, transitions were top of mind. The Board successfully transitioned its leadership as new president, Laura Fennimore, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, and three new directors-at-large (Heather Thompson Mackey, MSN, RN, ANP-BC, AOCN®, Anne Ireland, MSN, RN, AOCN®, CENP, and Susan Bruce, MSN, RN, OCN®, AOCNS®) came on board.
What ONS Does When the Question Can’t Be Answered Definitively
How frustrating it can be not to have enough evidence to answer a question definitively. That happens often in clinical practice, even as we build evidence for it. Expert opinion can help when the body of research does not. This spring, we have continued work in two areas in which answers are not definitive.
Board Continues to Align ONS to Meet Changing Member and Healthcare Needs
To meet the ONS mission as well as 501(c)(6) organization requirements, ONS’s key categories of revenue and expenses continue to focus on providing member and educational services, such as website resources, online and journal-related continuing nursing education, and publications that support oncology nurses and quality patient care.
ONS Scholar-in-Residence Will Drive Nursing Research, Highlight Scientists
Whether being called on to inform the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, develop novel resources for patients with prostate cancer, or create programs for smoking cessation, nurse scientists are continually advancing patient-centered oncology care. Nurse researcher contributions have led to improved patient outcomes, better symptom management interventions, and overall quality of care. As part of its commitment to future nursing research, ONS created a new scholar-in-residence position to drive and inform the Society’s research agenda and highlight the integral work of ONS member nurse scientists who are moving the needle for patients with cancer.
The Future Is Full of Opportunities for Advancing Oncology Nursing and Cancer Care
As I reflect on my time as ONS president, I realize that I am concluding my term as I began: grateful for the oncology nurses who have inspired and supported me. We are all guided by the common goal to provide the best possible care to individuals with cancer.
ONS Board Looks In the Rearview Mirror as We Cruise Ahead
To save costs and reduce the number of meetings, the ONS Board combined the traditional January and March meetings into a late-February meeting. It served as my final in-person board meeting, a bittersweet moment filled with reflection on ONS’s past, present, and future.
ONS Leaders Named to Biden Cancer Initiative Board and Advisory Committee
ONS President Susan Schneider, PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN, was appointed to the Biden Cancer Initiative board of directors, among other experts in health care, business, finance, and technology. The Cancer Initiative also named ONS Chief Executive Officer Brenda Nevidjon MSN, RN, FAAN, to its advisory committee, comprised of 25 other experts aiming to transform the way cancer is detected, diagnosed, and treated by implementing new solutions to complex healthcare problems.
How ONS Is Advocating for Our Patients and Our Profession
A responsibility of the ONS president, Board members, and senior staff is to advocate for our patients and our profession. To say that 2017 was a busy year is an understatement. This column, whether written by the president or by me, often describes where ONS has been, who has represented the organization and you, and what our advocacy or education has been.
Oncology Nurse and ONS Member Named President of Johns Hopkins Health System
ONS member and oncology nurse, Kevin Sowers, MSN, RN, FAAN, former president of Duke University Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC, was appointed president of the John Hopkins Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine, both in Baltimore, MD, on December 8, 2017, and begins his tenure on February 1, 2018. He is only the second person in Johns Hopkins history to hold these dual roles.
Nominating Colleagues for Nursing Awards Is a Professional Responsibility
At two national nursing events in October 2017, ONS members received prestigious awards. You may have seen the news about them in your ONS Voice weekly emails. They did not receive these awards without the work of colleagues who prepared their nominations.
ONS Board Looks Ahead to Exciting Plans in 2018
At the October Board meeting, we looked back at 2017 as a year that included great meeting times for ONS members at Congress in Denver, CO; regional chapter officer meetings; Leadership Weekend in Pittsburgh, PA; and Capitol Hill Days in Washington, DC. The ONS Board also looked ahead to 2018 and the third year of the strategic plan.
Find Moments of Inspiration in Your Work
I just finished writing a sympathy card to the family of “Beth.” For the past five years, Beth was in a support group that I facilitate for individuals with advanced cancer. Beth is an example of why I am an oncology nurse. She was an amazing woman. A deliberate thinker, she collected information and made decisions about her health that fit her goals. She once asked me, “How can you continue to care for folks with cancer year after year? It must be hard.”
Quality Cancer Care Includes Recognizing Underrepresented Patients
For oncology nurses, quality cancer care isn’t just about individualizing care for your patients, following local and national guidelines to the letter, or educating patients and family members to get them through their cancer diagnosis. Those are critical components to great cancer care, but tangible and intangible elements impact oncology as well.
Fennimore Selected as 2018–2020 ONS President-Elect Through New Governance Process
Laura Fennimore, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, professor of acute and tertiary care at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing in Pittsburgh, PA, has been selected as the next ONS president for the 2018–2020 term. She will be president-elect effective January 1, 2018. Fennimore’s appointment is the first under the ONS bylaw changes that were voted into practice by members in 2016. These governance changes provide the ONS Board of Directors the authority to select candidates from among the member-elected directors-at-large to fill officer roles on the ONS Board.
Advocacy Can Make a Difference
As part of its mission, ONS honors and maintains nursing’s historical and essential commitment to advocacy for the public good. Working collaboratively with policymakers, cancer and nursing community advocates, and other stakeholders at the local, state, federal, and international levels, ONS seeks to integrate the nursing perspective throughout the policymaking process and urges that oncology nurses be appointed to all relevant federal panels, committees, commissions, and boards. During its September conference call, the ONS Board of Directors focused on two key areas of ONS advocacy.
Foster Great Leaders by Leading by Example
In 2017, the ONS Board is implementing the new process where the Board of Directors appoints the next president who will be responsible for the ongoing shaping and molding of our society. During our virtual meeting on August 29, this was one of the most important topics that we discussed. The Board is committed to ensuring that our next leader has the vested interest of our organization and possesses the core competencies and values necessary to continue to move our organization forward.
National and Local Leaders All Play a Role in the ONS Enterprise
The annual ONS Leadership Weekend brings together the boards of ONS, ONS Foundation (ONSF), and the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC); the ONS Leadership Development Committee; the ONCC committee chairs; and leadership representatives from all of our chapters. Many national office staff join in the planning and activities too. The weekend is a valued, traditional investment in volunteer leaders at the local and national levels. In one session during this year’s meeting in July 2017, the questions that were asked indicated to me that understanding ONS and the roles and responsibilities of the various groups in the ONS enterprise could be helpful.
Oncology Nurses Need to Advocate for Access to Quality Care
Specialized Knowledge: Quality Care. This is my ONS presidential platform. In several columns, I have discussed how ONS resources can provide you with the specialized knowledge and expertise to provide quality care. This issue, I’d like to focus on quality care.
Becoming a Healthy You Contributes to a Healthy Nation
The American Nurses Association (ANA) launched a grand challenge this year: Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation. The premise is that we are the largest health professionals group but also rate poorly on health indicators. If we improve our health, we can be role models for our family, friends, patients, and community. ONS is supporting the ANA challenge, and I hope you have seen the weekly ONS tips that will help in this challenge.
Board of Directors Sets Goals for 2017–2018
Each June, the ONS Board finalizes its goals for the remainder of the year through the middle of following year. The process is collaborative, and ideas are gathered from each board member. Our hope is that the goals we work toward during the upcoming year will make us an effective, strategic, and nimble board for our members.
Through Early Detection, We Can Impact Cancer Mortality
Earlier in 2017, a group of 12 nurses traveled to Cuba to learn about cancer care and the healthcare system there. Cubans are very proud of their healthcare and educational systems, which are offered without charge to their citizens. We learned so much on this trip, but my take-home message from this experience was the importance of prevention and early detection.
ONS Chief Executive Officer Provides Nursing Tips for the Future of Cancer Care
During the keynote address at the Oncology Nurse Advisor Navigation Summit, Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN, chief executive officer at ONS, addressed the future of oncology care by opening with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “The future depends on what you do today.”
Members Meet to Lead ONS Into the Future
As Oncology Nursing Month, May saw celebrations at the ONS 42nd Annual Congress and in our workplaces. Nurses on ONS staff enjoyed recognition and celebration of their commitment to our mission and you. They partner closely with members who volunteer their time and expertise in developing initiatives and priorities for ONS. I would like to describe a few of those initiatives and work groups that have met at the national office in the first six months of 2017.
Renew Your Mind, Body, and Spirit This May While Celebrating Nurses
This year the American Nurses Association’s National Nurses Week theme was Nursing: The Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit. Take time this month to establish new ways to find balance. As nurses we are taught to view the individuals we care for holistically, yet we don’t always care for ourselves with the same focus. Spring is a symbolic time to renew. Take time to learn something new, take actions to renew your spirit, and be mindful of ways to nourish your body. These actions are important for your health and for the health or those you care for.
ONS Cultivates New and Sustaining Member Programs Throughout the Seasons
As much of the Northeast received a spring snowstorm, the ONS Board of Directors met face to face in Pittsburgh the second week of March. For this Texas girl, it was a beautiful sight to watch the falling snow as the Board discussed important organizational issues, and I couldn’t help but draw associations between our board governance work and the seasonal work of sowing into programs and reaping the reward of those programs to achieve our organizational vision.
Serving on Boards Allows Nurses to Improve the Nation’s Health
As the largest healthcare profession and the one most trusted by the public in the annual Gallup survey, nurses have the power to improve the health of communities throughout the country by bringing their expertise into the boardroom. However, we are an absent voice in so many of those boardrooms.
ONS’s 2017 Financial Priorities Are Based on Member Feedback
The ONS budgeting cycle is not unlike what occurs annually at each of our healthcare settings. ONS staff and senior leadership work to develop a budget each year. In March 2017, the ONS Board of Directors met with staff to review the year-end financials for 2016. This review helps us prepare for the treasurer’s presentation during the Business Meeting at the 42nd Annual ONS Congress in Denver in May. We will meet again in September and October to review and approve the proposed budget for 2018.
ONS Invited to White House for Cancer Moonshot Event
In collaboration with the former President Obama’s health policy team and the Cancer Moonshot, myself and several other members of ONS were invited to attend a community oncology event as part of the White House’s Making Health Care Better series. The event, “Addressing the Cancer Challenge: Progress in Research, Prevention, Coverage, and Quality,” took place at the White House complex on January 11, 2017. It was by invitation only from the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force.
National Roundtable Allows ONS and Nurses to Influence Quality Cancer Care
As 2016 came to a close, I participated in a two-day meeting in Washington, DC. ONS is one of more than 40 sponsors of the National Academy of Medicine’s Roundtable on Quality Care for People With Serious Illness.
Make Sure You’re Getting a Return on Your Investment
Twice a month, I lead a support group for folks with advanced cancer. Our discussions focus on living with cancer despite an uncertain future. Recently the conversation shifted toward what purchases should and shouldn’t be made.
Member Survey Responses Help Guide ONS’s Future Work
In September, ONS conducted a member survey with 14,728 randomly selected members. Thanks to the 1,842 (12.7%) who responded, the ONS Board of Directors and staff have learned much about the pressing challenges you face in your practice. Most frequently cited were appropriate staffing levels or mix (64%), staff training and education (50%), sufficient patient care resources (38%), and compassion fatigue (36%). You also added many other challenges to the list. This information will guide ONS in developing resources and services for you. It facilitates our identifying gaps in what we offer and what may be needed.
Member Survey Responses Help Guide ONS’s Future Work
No System Shall Endure Which Does Not March
Two years ago, I became ONS’s third chief executive officer and the staff partner to a Board of Directors that had a clear vision for a system that marches. If, as a member, you feel that ONS has undergone many changes in the past two years, you are correct.