Tumor Boards: The Latest and Greatest in Medical/Radiation, Surgical, and Hematology Oncology Treatment Modalities

Tumor Boards

By Carol Cannon, RN, BSN, OCN®

Are you overwhelmed with the amount of research constantly published on the care of patients with cancer? Do you strive to learn about the latest evidence-based practices in cancer treatment and symptom management? The fact that cancer care is always changing and expanding is what makes it both exciting and intimidating.

This year, the ONS 40th Annual Congress will feature a series of tumor board sessions, in which oncology advanced nurse practitioners will present new treatment and management options for patients with cancer. These sessions are designed to educate you—oncology nurses—on the latest practices to optimize care.

Join Tracy Krimmel, RN, NP, AOCN®, at 10:30 am on Friday, April 24, to discuss treatment options and nursing considerations for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Case studies and the audience response system will engage attendees to understand CLL and the related complications of bone marrow transplant.

At 10:30 am on Saturday, April 25, Jennifer Aviado-Langer, DNP, FNP-C, APRN, and Meghan Routt, RN, MSN, GNP/ANP, AOCN®, will share their expertise in surgical oncology. The session will include use of the hepatic artery infusion pump to manage metastases in colorectal cancer, as well as the importance of identifying and measuring preoperative anxiety in female patients with breast cancer.

And lastly, on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 pm, Annette Quinn, RN, MSN, and Vanna Dest, MSN, APRN, BC, AOCN®, will present new technologies in in radiation oncology. Attendees will learn about the use of low-level laser therapy to manage oral mucositis related to radiation and chemotherapy treatment of head and neck cancers. You’ll also gain appreciation for the benefits of advanced radiation therapy techniques, including image guided radiation therapy, in reducing cardiac and pulmonary toxicity in patients with cancer.

Come to these sessions and bring information on the latest practices back to your institution. Imagine how new modalities in treatment of cancer and management of side effects could positively impact your patients’ physical and psychological health outcomes.

Supporting Professional Development for Your Staff


By Theresa Kelly, BSN, MSM, RN, OCN®, Director at the BaylorScott&White Glenda Tanner Vasicek Cancer Treatment Center in Temple, TX

As healthcare funding declines and restrictions on pharmaceutical companies’ support increase, we continually search for alternative means to provide education to our oncology nurses. Depending on the finances at the time, we are able to allow a couple nurses from our institution to attend the ONS Annual Congress and share expensive room costs with another department. For example, we have had a nurse from the outpatient infusion department and one from the radiation department travel together. This past year, we were not in a position to fund education from the system’s budget so our ONS CHIP has been fundraising to send nurses to Congress.

Our nurses who attend Congress always come back reenergized and willing to share their knowledge. One of our expectations for attending Congress was to bring back knowledge to share with the team. The nurses always looked forward to their turn to attend Congress and the difficulty for management is not being able to close the clinic and send everyone.

 Learn more about how ONS can help oncology nurses get the education they need and about how the ONS Foundation can support Congress attendance through its scholarships.

Supporting Magnet Recognition Through ONS Programming

ONS Booth Chat

By Kathleen Shuey, MS, RN, AOCN®, ACNS BC, clinical nurse specialist at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

Evidence-based practice that impacts patient care and nursing innovation is the foundation of the Magnet Recognition Program®. Magnet recognizes the impact of the bedside nurse on patient outcomes. The program focuses on transformational leadership, structural empowerment, exemplary professional practice, new knowledge/innovation/improvements, and empirical quality results. All of these pillars can be supported with help from ONS programming.

There are many avenues that can enhance an individual’s practice and provide inspiration for projects that impact new knowledge, innovation, and quality improvements. Attending national meetings, such as the ONS 40th Annual Congress, exposes nurses to a variety of research and evidence-based practices that impact patient outcomes. Sharing of clinical expertise and professional experiences provides nurses with opportunities to network with peers and bring new ideas and improvement opportunities back to the facility. The ONS Putting Evidence into Practice initiative provides a foundation for clinical practice.

Learn more about all of ONS’s programs and services at www.ons.org.

Five Ways Congress Can Work for Your Certification


By Cyndi Miller Murphy, MSN, RN, CAE, Executive Director, ONCC

Looking to get more out of your ONS Congress experience? Attending Congress can be a win-win situation for nurses who are oncology certified or interested in becoming certified. Whether you’re certified now or still thinking about it, here’s how you can make Congress work for you.

  1. Get answers at the ONCC Certification Oasis. This is a one-stop spot for information and recognition. ONCC staff will be on hand to answer questions, demonstrate the Individual Learning Needs Assessment (ILNA), and offer help on how to determine how CNE programs can be used toward certification renewal. Certified nurses will also be able to enjoy light refreshments and complimentary chair massages.
  2. Use your Congress CNE to meet eligibility criteria. Several ONCC certifications require initial candidates to have at least 10 contact hours of recent CNE in oncology. Depending on the credential, the CNE available at Congress can easily help you meet that need.
  3. Use your Congress CNE to fulfill renewal requirements. Already certified? If you’re due to renew in 2015, you can use all of your CNE from Congress toward your renewal. If you’re due in 2016 or later, keep in mind that many sessions will qualify for points in ILNA subject areas. You can search the Congress schedule online or through the mobile app to identify sessions in specific ILNA topics beginning in March.
  4. Learn about ILNA renewal. ONCC will offer a presentation in the learning hall theater about ILNA. This informal session will highlight what you need to know and offer time for Q&A. It’s a great way to get information for yourself and to share with colleagues when you return home.
  5. Network with certified nurses. It’s easy to spot a certified nurse at Congress—just look for the credential ribbon on their name badge. “How long have you been certified?” is an easy way to start a conversation with the nurse sitting beside you, in the elevator, or while waiting in line. Or stop by the Oasis—it’s a great spot to talk with nurses who share your commitment. Plus, the ONCC Recognition Breakfast for Oncology Certified Nurses can’t be beat for networking with certified nurses—it’s exclusively for oncology certified nurses. Regardless of the setting, make a new connection with a certified nurse—you never know where it may lead.

We’re looking forward to seeing you and sharing our passion for certification at the ONS 40th Annual Congress.

Come Out on the Winning End of Oncologic Emergencies

Lombardi Trophy

photo credit: Lombardi Trophy aloft via photopin cc

By Marci Andrejko, BSN, RN, OCN®

Oncologic emergencies are clinical conditions resulting from metabolic, neurologic, cardiovascular, hematologic, and/or infectious changes caused by cancer or its treatment. They are emergent situations, which can sometimes occur quite abruptly, and require immediate intervention to prevent the loss of life or quality of life. At some point in your oncology nursing career, you may have read, attended educational courses, or even physically provided care for a patient experiencing an oncologic emergency. It is these learning experiences that help prepare nurses to be alert and aware of changes in patient conditions and instill confidence to provide the quality care needed during these times. These patients can deteriorate right in front of you, but nurses are in the position to saves lives and improve the course of the illness.

Last Sunday, Super Bowl XLIX was watched by millions of people, myself included. I caught myself thinking about how it feels to confidently enter into a difficult situation, such as oncologic emergencies, and come out on the winning end. Just as in football, all team players must know their role. Oncologic emergencies are life threatening, and knowing the fundamentals, such as assessing, diagnosing, and treating a patient, is the key to succeed in improving health outcomes.

On Saturday afternoon, April 25, at the ONS 40th Annual Congress, Martha Lassiter, MSN, AOCNS®, BMTCN™, and Juanita Madison, RN, will present Oncologic Emergencies: A Case-Based Approach.  This session will provide the latest updates in assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and nursing considerations for various oncologic emergencies.

I know that I want to be on the winning end. How about you? Pick your chair and I will see you there!

Two Years on the ONS Congress Planning Team: What an Experience!

Planning Team

By Carol Cannon, RN, BSN, OCN®

I clearly remember the email from Nonniekaye Shelburne, the ONS Congress Planning Team chair, welcoming me on board for Congress 2014. I reread it several times in disbelief. I was hesitant to apply because I didn’t consider myself an expert in oncology nursing. I didn’t publish frequently. I didn’t have my advanced degree. I was simply an oncology nurse, passionate about my field and excited about the multiple opportunities ONS offers their members to stretch themselves beyond their daily work.

During our first planning team conference call, I felt intimidated and nervous. But within a few weeks, I was contacting experts across the country and helping them build their objectives and content. I connected people who shared fervor for similar subtopics related to oncology nursing. It involved being available to other members of the team, ONS, and the speakers. It gave me such satisfaction to help create these sessions that I was so excited to attend.

My favorite part of the experience was meeting the other team members the night before the preconference sessions. I felt like I knew them because we were all so intimately familiar with each other’s email addresses. But I had no idea that I would leave Congress with such great mentors, colleagues, and friends. The week of Congress was packed chock-full of events. I ran from session, to learning hall, to clinical simulation scenario. It was exhausting, but oh so fun. I left Anaheim waiting anxiously to start planning the 2015 Congress.

Sure enough, the planning team got right back to work. With a year of experience under my belt, I was impassioned to do an even better job. In addition to helping coordinate several educational sessions, I’m also continuing to create clinical simulation scenarios and share the exciting happenings in Congress preparation with the ONS members through blogs and social media.

When I applied to the Congress Planning Team, I hoped to network and gain education on various aspects of oncology nursing that I did not typically experience. Looking back, I achieved those goals and more. I have met and worked with oncology nurses and providers from all over the United States. I have made virtual friends over social media, who later I met in real life. I gained knowledge of geriatric tools to improve care of the older adult with cancer, saw how two different hospitals ensured competent continuity of care during natural disasters, and discovered strategies to encourage your patients to increase physical activity. I’m learning measurement tools to assess the success of patient navigation programs in different patient populations and how to use social media to engage patients and colleagues. My experience on the planning team allowed me to help build something that I’m so proud of and so excited to share with all of you.

ONS is now calling members to apply to be part of the 2016 ONS Congress Planning Team. I personally encourage you to think about extending your dedication to patients with cancer to be a part of this amazing process. Learn more about the team and apply now!

Healthy People Vaccinate: Improving HPV Vaccine Uptake

Texas U-076

By Nonniekaye Shelburne, CRNP, MS, AOCN®, 2014–2015 ONS Congress Content Planning Team chair

Did you know?

  • There are more than 100 types of human papillomavirus (HPV), 13 of which are classified as high-risk types due to their association with cancer.
  • HPV and its subsequent cancers are preventable through vaccination in many countries.

Being an oncology nurse, I imagine this is not new information. Unfortunately, to millions of people in the U.S. and internationally, these facts are unknown due to a lack of health care access or lack of knowledge. We have the scientific knowledge and the vaccination, so what’s the hold up with translation into our communities and practice?

Ongoing research is identifying barriers to vaccination uptake, including a laborious vaccination schedule, insurance/access, stigma or cultural concerns, and effective provider communication. Oncology nurses in clinical and research roles are in a position to contribute to the evidence behind this lack of uptake and the translation of findings. What is your role going to be?

Join Electra Paskett, PhD, and Betsy Shenkman, RN, PhD, on Friday morning at Congress for Healthy People Vaccinate: Improving HPV Vaccine Uptake to learn more.  They’ll discuss global efforts to raise awareness and action on HPV vaccination uptake, current and future research in this area, and the role of oncology nurses in preventing HPV-related cancers.

For a more personal look at the results of HPV, visit Theater 1 in the learning hall on Thursday, April 23, at 4 pm for a screening of Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic. The documentary chronicles the lives of five women affected by HPV. Through their stories, you’ll gain a greater understanding of why your involvement in HPV vaccination is vital.

Getting the Facts Straight About Obesity

Lose weight now

photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

By Carol Cannon, RN, BSN, OCN®

A lot has been publicized about initiating a conversation with patients about smoking cessation. We’ve all been taught that the single best thing someone can do for their health is to quit tobacco use.

However, I learned some surprising information at the 2013 ONS Congress. Stephen Hursting, PhD, MPH, shared his research from the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, explaining that obesity is actually a bigger contributor to cancer than tobacco. It caused me to ask myself, when was the last time I counseled a patient to lose weight? Today, I still struggle with this concept.

I currently work in the acute care setting. The patients who come in for a bone marrow transplant will likely lose weight in the process of transplant, but that’s not an acceptable excuse. Some people need counseling to maintain a healthy weight post-transplant. Many newly diagnosed leukemics need massive weight loss to improve their overall health. While I am quick to reward weight loss efforts, I typically do not initiate the conversation or emphasize the importance of continuing diet modifications and physical activity. In fact, I have been the nurse who buys French fries for the patient who is “just craving them.”

Sometimes it is easy to take on the mentality, these people have cancer. They deserve to eat what they want. Particularly when nausea and vomiting are common, it’s easy to ask them to try and get down anything they can. You only live once, right? But perhaps I am only doing a disservice to my patients by avoiding this ongoing discussion. Obesity is not only a major risk factor for cancer, but it also contributes to a poorer prognosis and an increased risk for recurrence.

On Thursday afternoon of the ONS 40th Annual Congress, Adrienne Wald, EdD, MBA, RN, MCHES, will discuss the latest evidence about this challenging topic in a session titled Obesity and Cancer.” She will also cover nursing interventions and educational guidelines that are imperative to ensure the best possible outcomes for your patients with cancer. I will be there with my pen and notepad in hand!

Share Your Latest Research Findings at Congress


We’re now accepting submissions for late-breaking research abstracts to be presented at the ONS 40th Annual Congress. This special call for abstracts allows you to present your most current data in Orlando.

An abstract is a form that summarizes your work, submitted for potential presentation. The 60 top-scoring abstracts will be presented during a Congress podium session, a special opportunity to share your work at an internationally acclaimed nursing conference. Other top-scoring abstracts will be selected for poster presentations, visual displays of oncology nursing projects from around the world.

Abstracts are due on Monday, February 2, at 11:59 pm EST. Please review the abstract instructions before you submit your abstract. Those whose abstracts have been accepted will be notified no later than February 27.

If you need help getting started, take advantage of our abstract mentorship program. We’ll pair you with an experienced author who can walk you through the abstract submission process. Email absquestion@ons.org or contact the ONS education department at 1-866-257-4ONS to join the program.

40 Under 40: ONS Celebrates 40th Anniversary With 40 Congress Scholarships

40 under 40

To commemorate the past 40 years of ONS and look forward to the next 40, the ONS Foundation, with the generous support of the ONS–Lilly Oncology Advancing Patient Care Project, will be offering 40 Congress scholarships for emerging chapter leaders under the age of 40. Recipients will receive an educational scholarship for up to $1,200 to fund their trip to the ONS 40th Annual Congress in Orlando, FL.

Think you fit the bill? Apply now to be considered for a scholarship. You’ll need to have one of your chapter officers fill out a Chapter Recommendation Form to accompany your application.

Not under 40, but know an emerging leader? Encourage your eligible colleagues to apply. If you’re a chapter officer, you can get them started by filling out the Chapter Recommendation Form in advance.

Please note: The application deadline has now passed.