Congress 2016: Big Changes, Big Ideas, and Big Inspiration


By Anne Kolenic, MSN, RN, AOCNS®, 2015–2016 ONS Congress Content Planning Team chair

WOW! What a great Congress in San Antonio we had this year. It truly was four days of intense learning, networking, and rejuvenation. Now that we have all had some time to catch our breath, recuperate, and reflect on the event, I wanted to share with others some of the big ideas that were presented by our colleagues.

It all started Thursday morning during opening ceremonies where attendees were charged with two main areas of focus. First, I encouraged all to learn, share, network, and reflect on their journey as an oncology nurse. We all went into oncology nursing and stay in it for different reasons, but it’s important that we take the time to think about our paths and share our story and journeys with our colleagues. Then, from our awesome keynote speaker, Ron Culberson, we were all inspired to “Do it well. Make it fun!” Ron brought to life how implementing that easy two-step plan leads you to greater success in both your life and your career. Ron shared hilarious life observations and experiences with us to demonstrate how those steps to make dull or stressful situations more enjoyable. It was a great message to start off Congress and left everyone laughing and relaxed.

There were so many great sessions over Congress that it would be impossible to highlight them all, but here are a few learnings that particularly struck me. In “Dental Oncology,” we learned that patients with cancer need to be seen proactively by dentist prior to starting treatment to ensure best outcomes. Oncology nurses are the best advocates for this to happen and can be instrumental in paving the future of bridging the gap between oncology and dentistry. It was great to have a dentist along with an oncology nurse navigator to present this topic.

In “Looking Toward the Future,” Patricia Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN, Director of the NINR, provided great information on how nursing science is poised to make significant contributions to new advances in oncology care. She shared examples of current research being done, gaps in the research, opportunities for funding, and other resources available through NINR.

The Elephant in the Room” provided practical tips and tools for the attendees to utilize in their everyday clinical practice to approach and discuss difficult topics with their patients. Anne Katz, PhD, RN, with some help from her planning team colleagues, used roleplay scenarios to demonstrate how to start these conversations, stay open to what the patient is saying, and even how to regain your composure when our patients “throw us a curve ball” during the conversation.

Lastly, members of the ONS Board of Directors encouraged attendees to “Keep the Fire Burning” with the information gained at Congress and implement the new knowledge into our practices back home. One of the greatest comments shared by an attendee is that she and her colleagues had made a pact that when back at work and the “high” of Congress was fading, they would say to each other “Remember the Alamo” to remind them of the great inspiration and rejuvenation that occurred this weekend!

For those of you who weren’t able to be with us in San Antonio, please take the time to look over the accepted abstracts and ePosters, and reach out to your peers to discuss their projects and research. Talk to your colleagues who did attend and ask them to share what they learned and experienced. I bet they’ll have some great new insight to share.

For those who were about to join us, thank you again! It was awesome experience, and I hope you enjoyed your time. Don’t forget to complete your evaluation by 11:59 pm EST on May 26 at to claim your Congress CNE. We can’t wait to do it all again next year in Denver, CO, May 4-7, 2017!

Share Your Own Big Changes From Congress


The ONS 41st Annual Congress is all about “Big Change” in oncology nursing. Through speaker sessions, poster presentations, learning hall exhibits, and many other educational presentations, we hope you’ll leave Congress energized and excited to make big changes when you return home.

That’s why we’re announcing the 2016 Congress Blog Contest: Bringing “Big Change” Back Home. It’s an opportunity for you to submit a blog post about how Congress encouraged you to implement a change in your practice. Was there a particular speaker or session that ignited your passion for big change? If so, let us know!

ONS will select one grand prize winner to receive a free registration for the ONS 42nd Annual Congress held May 4-7, 2017, in Denver, CO. Two honorable mentions will also be awarded a free one-year memberships to ONS. The contest ends May 26, 2016, so don’t delay. The details are as follows.

  • Your blog submission cannot be longer than 500 words (not including references).
  • You blog must be written in English.
  • Your piece cannot be previously published elsewhere.
  • Please include your name, email, and place of work. Your email and place of work will not be published.
  • All entries will be posted to the Congress blog.
  • One grand prize winner will receive a free registration to the ONS 42nd Annual Congress, held May 4-7, 2017, in Denver, CO.
  • Two Honorable mention winners will receive one-year ONS memberships.
  • Submit all blog posts to by 11:59 pm on May 26, 2016.

We know oncology nurses like you do great things each and every day. Take advantage of this opportunity to tell your story about how Congress inspired you to implement your own “Big Change.” We’re looking forward to reading your submissions!

Travel Tips and Tricks


By Una Kilberg, ONS Director of Meeting Services

You’re likely gearing up for your trip to San Antonio right now. Before you head to the airport, here are some helpful hints to ensure a successful experience.

Make sure to pack any medications in your carry-on bag, and keep in mind that any liquids or gels that you carry on must be less than 4 oz. and fit in a single one-quart Ziploc bag. To be safe, it’s always a good idea to pack a spare change of clothes in your carry-on bag, too.

From the airport, it’s just a short ride to downtown San Antonio where the convention center and all Congress hotels are located. You have a few different options to get from the airport to your hotel. There are airport shuttles ($19 one way or $34 roundtrip), taxis (approximately $40 one way), and bus transportation ($1.20/person one way). All of these options are located right outside of baggage claim at the airport.

While you are in San Antonio, make sure that you explore during your free time. We know that you’ll be busy with Congress sessions all day, but the Riverwalk has dining options at every price point for your evening adventures. There are also river taxis and river tours available along the Riverwalk. Try to catch SAN ANTONIO | THE SAGA, a visual display projected on the front of San Fernando Church, just a short walk from the convention center at 9, 9:30, and 10 pm Friday and Saturday night.

We hope you are as excited as we are for Congress! See you soon in San Antonio.

Keep Your Congress Schedule in the Palm of Your Hand


Tired of lugging around papers and shuffling through them to find what you need? The ONS Congress mobile app is here to solve your problems! By downloading the app, you’ll have your personalized schedule, exhibitor listing, convention center map, and speaker directory all at your fingertips throughout the conference.

Even getting the app is easy. Just search for “ONS Congress” in the App Store or Google Play. If you’ve started to create your personalized schedule online, click the icon in the top right corner of your screen to log in and sync up your personalized schedule. If you haven’t gotten started yet, just tap that icon to create an account. Once you’re logged in, or start selecting sessions to build your schedule. Just tap the session, then tap “Add to Sched” for anything you would like to attend.” When you’re done, tap thee icon in the top right hand corner to view your complete personalized schedule. You can then share your schedule with friends and colleagues through Facebook, Twitter, messaging, and email.

The app contains helpful session information like CNE status of sessions, ILNA categories, and more. Plus, if a session change happens that affects you, you’ll receive an email so you know exactly where to go. You can even view the session handouts through the app. There will be a link at the bottom of the session description linking you to the handouts if they are available.

Download the Congress app now so you’re ready to go when you arrive in San Antonio! If you have any trouble, just stop by the ONS Booth (#834) and a staff member will be able to help you. See you soon!

Attend Industry-Sponsored Events to Stay In the Know

Industry-Sponsored Events

You likely know all about the educational sessions at Congress, but are you aware of the many industry-sponsored events that will be taking place at Congress? Industry-sponsored events provide critical information related to cancer treatment options, new and expanded indications for FDA-approved products, safe administration guidelines, strategies for managing potential side effects, and patient education resources. You’ll want to be sure to add some of these great events to your personal schedule.

There are two types of industry-sponsored events: theater presentations and symposia events. Theater presentations take place in the four theaters inside the ONS Learning Hall at 11:15 am and 1:45 pm. They are each one hour long, and they do not provide any CNE. Attend these presentations to get updates on the latest treatment and symptom management options available for your patients.

Symposia events are opportunities for you to enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner while you learn and network with fellow attendees. These events are held in ballrooms in either the convention center or Congress headquarter hotels. Please note that many symposia events require separate registration, and adding the event to your schedule does not reserve your seat. If you need to register for the event, you will see a “Register” button and a link in the event’s description.

We look forward to seeing you at these exciting and interesting events to help you stay up to date with the latest options available for your patients.

What to Wear and Pack For Your Congress Trip


By Stefanie Wenger, RN, San Antonio Chapter Member

As you prepare for your journey to the ONS 41st Annual Congress in San Antonio you might be thinking, “What in the world should I pack?” Well, no need to worry because here are some tips on what to bring for a successful trip.

We have been getting quite a few rainy days lately, so you may want to toss an umbrella in your suitcase just in case. If you like to use a weather app like I do, be prepared of the possibility that the weather will be nothing like it is predicted. You tend to notice the weatherman on TV reporting a 60% chance of rain one minute, then look back 30 minutes later to see that the chance of rain is 0%. Your day could start by needing a light jacket early in the morning, but by the evening you could be drenched in sweat the second you walk outside. It’s always a good idea to wear layers to take off as the day gets warmer—and to be prepared for any chilly session rooms. If you plan on doing a lot of walking around town, make sure you bring sunscreen with you and wear lightweight, cool clothing.

In addition to your clothes, there are a few other things we’d like you to bring to Congress. The San Antonio ONS Chapter is seeking donations of cold weather items and toiletries for the homeless as our community service project. Items like as gloves or scarves would be much appreciated, as well as the little complimentary bottles of shampoo and soap bars that you receive in the hotels. There will be a collection box located at the San Antonio ONS Chapter booth outside of room 221 in the convention center to drop off your donations. And while you’re at the chapter booth, don’t forget to pick up a little gift we have for you as a souvenir from this year’s Congress!

We are so excited to share our city with you. See you soon!

Keeping Up With Quality Metrics


By Dawn Jourdan, RN, BSN

We all know that healthcare is rapidly changing—including treatment methods, how and where care is provided, and how we are reimbursed for the care we provide. At times, it can seem a bit overwhelming to keep up with the latest information, let alone think about what may happen next. One area of increasing importance focuses on the quality of care provided. Quality metrics were once mainly limited to inpatient settings, but are now being defined across the care continuum. Numerous organizations have developed quality metrics applicable to all patients and more recently, measures specific to the care of oncology patients. At times the list seems never ending and feels a bit like alphabet soup with all of the various organizations including NDNQI, CoC, CMS, ASCO and a host of others. Sometimes just thinking about all of the possible measures one could track, report on, and try to improve makes my head spin.

If you feel like I do at times, be sure to attend “Defining Safety and Quality Across the Cancer Care Continuum” to help make sense of it all. Kristen Fessele, PhD, RN, and Simone Karp, RPh, will discuss factors driving the focus on the quality of care provided, discuss how reimbursement is being impacted by quality measures, and provide an overview of current quality measures and the ONS Quality Clinical Data Registry.  Whether you are a nursing administrator, a quality professional, or a staff nurse who is involved in unit-based quality projects, this session will help you gain a better understanding of the current quality landscape.

Be Prepared for Congress With Your Session Slides in Hand

Session Handouts

By Marilyn Hammer, PhD, DC, RN

Not sure how and where to find the Congress slides? By following the instructions below, you’ll have your slides in hand and be ready to start attending Congress sessions!

To access the session handouts, visit the Congress schedule or open the Congress mobile app. At the bottom of each session’s description, click on the link next to the icon that looks like a piece of paper. These session handouts are not the actual slides that will be presented, but rather highlights and key takeaways of the session.

The handouts are available to you through PDF format. So how do you take notes?! There are several ways to take notes with a PDF.

  1. Pen and paper! Print out your handouts and write on them. This method that has stood the test of time. 🙂
  2. On a computer/laptop
    1. If you have Adobe Acrobat, open the “tools” area, and select notes or one of the other text writing options
    2. Open a blank Word document and take notes.
    3. Open a blank PowerPoint or even Excel spreadsheet and take notes.
  3. On a tablet
    • Download one of the many note-taking applications. Here are some recommendations.
      1. Notability
      2. iAnnotate PDF
      3. PDF Expert
      4. PDF Pen for iPad
      5. Xodo

Please note that some speakers choose to not share their slides to protect their intellectual property. If you do not see a handout included for a given session, please reach out to the speaker directly to see if they are willing to share any material.

If you have any problems or questions about session slides, feel free to visit the ONS Booth (#834) for more guidance. Most importantly, enjoy!

Spot the Slip Up and Speak Up for Safety!


By Tracy Wyant, MSN, RN-BC, AOCN®, CHPN, and Laurl Matey, MSN, RN, CHPN

As part of the #SpotlightonSafety initiative, ONS wants to empower nurses to adopt and achieve a culture of safety in practice. Why? Because oncology nurses are vital contributors to assuring safety in a hazardous, complex care environment. Individual core values, evidence-based behaviors, and a sustained dedication to providing safe care are the basic components of a culture of safety. A true safe culture is achieved by striving for optimal safety through collaborative leadership and advocacy that minimizes blame, recognizes potential errors, and prevents harm to both patients and staff.

Have you reflected on your individual contributions to a safe culture? When considering various safety risks, you may think of safe handling precautions and the prevention of harm caused by errors, infections, and falls. However, a culture of safety involves holistic strategies that address all domains of care. Physical, developmental, psychosocial, spiritual, and emotional factors exist in your daily work that create ethical dilemmas or otherwise impact safe access to care, safe delivery of care, health promotion, nursing self-care, and advocacy for our patients and profession.

Let’s share insight and stories about safety! You’re invited to “#SpotlightonSafety: Advancing, Adopting, and Achieving a Culture of Safety” in Learning Hall Theater 3 on Thursday, April 28 at 3 pm to observe care discussions and scenarios, from inappropriate faux pas to compliance issues to potentially detrimental errors. Your role will be to scrutinize the scenarios, spot the slip ups, and speak up for safety! We’ll certainly share some lighthearted blunders, but we’ll take all safety issues seriously, discussing effective recognition, practical prevention, and successful management strategies.

Taking Technology Up a Level at Congress


By Rich Maloney, ONS IT Infrastructure Manager

If you’re a longtime attendee of the ONS Annual Congress, you probably remember waiting in lines at the ONS Internet Café to check your email. Fortunately, technology at Congress has come a long way since those days. This year, the ONS 41st Annual Congress will be the most technology-driven event we’ve ever put on.

At Congress, you’ll enjoy free wi-fi service throughout the entire convention center,* sponsored by TEVA Oncology. All you need to do is log on to the ONS2016 network and enter BENDEKA as your password.  This free internet access allows you to stay connected throughout Congress, take part in the interactive audience response system (ARS) questions, and get engaged on social media. Tweet or post any interesting information you want to share with your colleagues back home and share your photos on Instagram to show what a great time you’re having in San Antonio. Remember to use #ONSCongress!

There are also technology updates when it comes to Congress education. We’ll have an expanded ePoster area this year with six 50″ monitors for poster viewing and conversation. Congress ePoster presenters are able to zoom in and create a more interactive presentation experience. In addition, we’ll be live streaming selected Congress sessions on the Congress website for those who couldn’t make it to watch from afar.

We are looking forward to delivering an exciting and technologically advanced conference for you. See you soon in San Antonio!

*Wi-fi is available in all areas except the Learning Hall.