Nancy Houlihan, MA, RN, AOCN®, shares her vision for ONS.
By all accounts, we have weathered a difficult period in our personal, professional, and civic lives. We have witnessed unprecedented events with global suffering and loss from the COVID-19 pandemic; conflicts over racial equality, election outcomes, and Constitutional rights; and chaos and violence within our most revered spaces of democracy. While nurses have been lauded as healthcare heroes in mitigating the spread of disease and caring for those infected under the most difficult circumstances, we endure the impact on our physical and mental health and fears for our profession. As we emerge into a hopeful new period with early signs of COVID-19 containment by vaccine, we look for inspiration in Florence Nightingale’s principle that “little can be done under the spirit of fear” and hold onto hope and the structures that have always supported us. ONS is committed to leading our members and all nurses in caring for people with cancer and ourselves during this new paradigm.
I have been an oncology nurse and ONS member for most of my career and have seen the changes in cancer treatment and oncology nursing care that evolved with scientific advances. Oncology nursing practice has kept in time with treatment trends by developing new strategies to recognize and manage toxicities and improve outcomes, safety, and comfort with targeted symptom management. Throughout this evolution, ONS has been a leader in development and support of nursing science, evidence-based practice recommendations, standards of care delivery, and innovative educational programs to ensure that nurses are equipped with the knowledge and skill to care for patients in new ways. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, ONS was quick to recognize the informational needs of oncology nurses in caring for patients and responded with development of online resources, a community platform for sharing questions and experiences, webinars, publications, and educational programming and a rapid revision to our research agenda.
The ONS Board of Directors is more committed than ever to providing oncology nurses with the skills to lead in the current and post–COVID-19 cancer care world. Our strategic plan aims to guide our membership with resources and evidence-based oncology nursing practice standards as technology influences cancer care delivery even more quickly. We will support our chapters in new ways to meet their members’ educational needs using remote platforms. We will collaborate closely with our clinical experts and researchers to grow the science and knowledge and integrate a culture of innovation. We will work with our industry partners to leverage new education technologies until we can gather in our traditional learning halls. We will continue building leaders for the future of ONS and oncology nursing and influencing our legislators about the significant issues in cancer prevention and access to care. And, we will do so with an ongoing commitment to inclusivity. Oncology nurses are as diverse as the communities they serve. We support them all.