Your Adventure Begins at the ONS Booth

ONS Booth

The ONS Learning Hall is a bustling hub of Congress activities—and this year there’s dedicated time for you to take a look around and explore. With so many great exhibitors, it can be hard to decide where to start. Why not begin at the ONS booth, where you can learn how to make the most of your ONS membership and enter to win great prizes?

The ONS booth is centrally located in the hall, marked by a large hanging sign—you really can’t miss it! Staff members will be standing by to answer questions and provide you with valuable information about ONS membership, courses, publications, and more. Plus, you can join or renew your membership on site, and you’ll instantly receive a $10 Amazon or Starbucks gift card.

Make sure you check back each day to see what special giveaways are available. There will even be a Plinko game for you to try your luck and see what fun prize you get to take home. You can also enter to win one of our great prize baskets when you drop off the raffle tickets found in your Conference Guide and each Show Daily. Look for additional ways to enter by joining the Congress Facebook event and following us on Twitter and Instagram.

Want to keep learning? Sit in on presentations in the ONS booth. We’ll cover hot topics in oncology nursing and important ONS news and updates. Be sure to get there early, as seats go quickly!

Make sure to stop by the ONS booth during your Congress trip. We can’t wait to meet you!

“How Can You Be an Oncology Nurse?”

Anne Ireland

By Anne Ireland, MSN, RN, AOCN®, ONS Board of Directors, Director at Large

“How can you be an oncology nurse?”

I’m sure you’ve had people say this to you after you tell them your profession. It’s typically followed by something like, “It must be so difficult to see so much death and so sad to be surrounded by so much sickness.” These comments are true—it is hard to see death and it does make me sad to see my patients suffer. So how do so many of us remain in oncology nursing for such a long time? The experts might suggest it is because we are “resilient.” But what does that mean exactly? Were we always this way? Did we become resilient over time? Can we teach others how to become resilient?

Last year was pronounced the “Year of Ethics” by the American Nurses Association (ANA) in recognition of the publication of the revised Code of Ethics for Nurses and was woven into the ANA Year of Ethics conference I attended in June 2015. My board report from this meeting called for action on ONS’ part to expand the opportunities for our members to develop skills and traits to support creating “a culture of humanity” in our workplaces. In this culture, we will see a reverence for life, where we honor people’s values, promote wellbeing, minimize suffering, and demonstrate non-discrimination, just resource allocation, and integrity. Creating these environments will require courage and demand resilience.

At the ONS 41st Annual Congress, the ONS Board of Directors is sponsoring a session titled “Moral Courage: Building Resilience.” We invite you to join us in this dynamic and liberated session where you will be given the opportunity to share ethical challenges, reflect on your practice, create community and learn from the experts among us. This session is both about you and for you. The Board looks forward to seeing you there.

BIG Changes for 2016: More Networking Opportunities Than Ever Before


By Christopher Pirschel, ONS Staff Writer

As Congress draws closer, you’re probably aware of all the great events on the schedule. Between presentations, keynotes, best practice exchanges, and more, you might be overlooking one very important part of Congress—the networking opportunities. What other time are you going to be in a giant room filled with like-minded colleagues from across the country for several days in a row? Taking advantage of this opportunity will connect you with people you’d never otherwise meet. Congress is the place to forge friendships, parlay with professionals, and open up to other oncology nurses about the things that matter most in your career.

ONS knows the value of a little time between sessions to catch up with those you’ve just met. In order to create an environment that encourages engagement, not only with the presenters but with each other, we’ve made some key tweaks to provide our attendees with more networking opportunities. In the past, there wasn’t much time between the end of one session and the beginning of another. This year, sessions will be spaced 15 minutes apart to offer more time for interaction and discussion with your fellow attendees.

Other networking opportunities include blocks of unopposed time in the learning hall each day (11 am-2:45 pm), three different roundtable discussions, an attendee reception to be hosted on Saturday evening, a career fair, and an all new addition to Congress called “Continuing the Conversation.” This provides time for featured speakers to keep the dialogue going in the lounges found in the learning hall.

Congress isn’t just for attending presentations. It’s for connecting with fellow nurses, speaking about the concerns and questions you face every day, and changing for the better in a big, big way. If you haven’t already, reserve your spot at Congress today. Don’t forget to check out this year’s schedule to plan your visit.

Catching the Political Fever: Primary Elections and A Nurse’s Need to Advocate


By Alec Stone, MA, MPA, ONS Director of Health Policy

The peculiar and very American experiment in democracy has a quadrennial exercise known as Presidential primary season. From the cornfields of Iowa’s small town caucuses held on February 1, to Dixville Notch, New Hampshire—registered voting population of 12 in 2010—casting and counting votes at 12:15AM a week later, it is an excitingly historic practice in which we still eagerly partake.

There are self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist and Tea Party candidates who have been running for the US Presidency for close to a year now. Many candidates will drop out of the race by March, as the parade of primary states’ wins and losses winnow the field to a select few.

It’s a fickle process. You’re up in the polls, then you’re down. Raising money, then it dries up. Known as a great orator, then you put your foot in your mouth. Election results can be cruel, and it is not uncommon for a very unlikely candidate to take an idea, build a movement, and win the nomination. Actually, it happens more often than not.

But the most important component is the involvement of the American people. Participatory democracy is unique to this country. This is a dedicated time where issues and topics, discussions and debates, and rhetoric and content are encouraged. Real change begins in the early stages of all campaigns.

For ONS, it is important that members track the candidates and listen to their positions on healthcare, workforce, research, and education. Is there commitment to investment and opportunity? Will the candidates continue their support after winning office? What level of understanding will the new leadership have about the role of the nurse in healthcare?

At the ONS 41st Annual Congress, we will filibuster, argue, grandstand, and bloviate on the Presidential election in “Election 2016: Donkey or Elephant, Educate the Candidates on Oncology Nursing Issues.” Join us for a lively discussion, and bring your attitude. We’ll all have opinions, and we won’t tolerate a lot of hot air!

photo credit: DSC_7102 via photopin (license)

Get Up and Get Moving To Help Your Patients Do the Same


By Roseann Dougherty, RN, Founder, Team Inspiration

Cancer-related fatigue is one of the most common problems faced by patients with cancer. It may be related to either the disease itself or the treatment, and it can continue beyond the completion of treatment for long-term cancer survivors. Among people with cancer, 80% to 100% report experiencing fatigue. Fatigue may be an isolated problem or occur as one element in a cluster of symptoms, such as pain, depression, dyspnea, anorexia, and/or sleep disturbance.

Exercise as an intervention for cancer related fatigue is recommended for all cancer types and treatment modalities. Even light levels of physical exertion are beneficial—so why are we under-recognizing and under-utilizing physical activity as an intervention for fatigue?

The ONS Get Up, Get Moving campaign is aimed at increasing the frequency and consistency with which patients undergoing active treatment for cancer receive an individualized plan recommendation for physical activity. As a nurse, you may not be sure how to make a recommendation, or you may not feel comfortable giving such recommendations if you do not personally engage in exercise. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine is one way to help you feel more confident in recommending the same to your patients.

It’s time to get up and get moving to discover how good physical activity and exercise can make you feel. I’ll be at the ONS 41st Annual Congress, to help you experience opportunities for physical activity for self-improvement that can drive big change in your practice. Participate in stretches between sessions, count your steps throughout the conference, and share how you’re staying active for a chance to win a prize! Plus, attend “Conversations With Oncology Nurses: Incorporating Physical Activity Into Cancer Care” to learn what fellow nurses are doing at their institutions to promote physical activity among their patients.

You don’t even have to wait for Congress to get started. Check out some helpful resources to learn how you and your patients can get active right away. Comment below to tell us how it’s going, or share your experiences with us on site in San Antonio!

Join Us for the 2016 Best Practice Exchange


By Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN

For ONS Congress, it’s a year of Big Change. Whether you know it or not, that change starts with you. At ONS, our members are the driving force for what we do, and we want to hear from you.

Is there an issue you face daily but ONS hasn’t addressed? Do you wish you could speak with the ONS leaders to voice your questions or concerns? Then come join us at Congress 2016 for a Best Practice Exchange session with ONS President Margaret Barton-Burke, PhD, RN, FAAN, and other ONS leaders. The casual exchange of ideas will take place April 28 and 29 from 1:45-2:45 pm, so that our members can connect with ONS leadership on the day-to-day issues oncology nurses face.

At ONS, we value the feedback and insights that our members have to offer. Without your innovative ideas and expertise, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We want to know what more ONS can do to support your practice and profession—now and in the future. It’s our goal to make sure oncology nurses are provided with the latest, cutting-edge resources, information, and education to further their fight against cancer. One of the best ways we can find out what impacts you and your colleagues is by hearing from you directly.

Speak with ONS leaders about what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, and what ONS can do for you and your practice in the coming months and years. Mark your schedule now for the Best Practice Exchanges.

Congress Sessions Fit for an Emerging Leader

Emerging Leader

By Linda Worrall, RN, MSN, ONS Foundation Executive Director

The ONS Foundation is pleased to announce that 20 Emerging ONS Chapter Leaders will receive funding through the ONS-Lilly Oncology Advancing Patience Care Project to attend the ONS 41st Annual Congress in San Antonio, TX. These nurses will travel to San Antonio to experience “Big Change” while learning, networking, and celebrating the wonderful profession of oncology nursing. Given the numerous sessions offered at Congress, here are a few suggestions for some of our Emerging Chapter Leaders to attend.

The “Clinical Rounds: Venous Access Devicespreconference program may just be what LanAnh Nguyen (Houston Chapter) needs to assist her with her new job in an infusion therapy department.

Carrie Marvill (Philadelphia Area Chapter) started her oncology nursing career in 2007, and this will be the first time she attends Congress. Carrie hopes to hear from others on how they handle the growing cost and complexity of cancer care, so attending “The Cost of Cancer: Beyond Insurance” on Friday may be helpful.

Outpatient infusion nurse, Erica Hall (Way Out West Houston Chapter), will find the “Pharmacology Updateis just what she needs to learn about the cancer drugs approved by the FDA in the past year.

Providing patient care based on the evidence is a necessity in today’s world. Although evidence-based care is part of all sessions at Congress, Moly Wilson (Lake Superior Chapter) may want to attend “Implementation of Evidence in Practice: Policy or Secret Sauce on Thursday. The debate over the varying viewpoints of implementing evidence and best practices into clinical care is sure to be thought provoking.

Jessica Sawicki (New York Capital District Chapter) will no doubt make her way over to the poster sessions to see the latest information on survivorship. Viewing the posters will enable her to bring back information for the newly-established survivorship program at her institution.

Michelle Haughey’s (Blue Ridge of Virginia Chapter) role as a clinical research nurse liaison will surely benefit by attending both clinical practice and research track sessions, enhancing both sides of her career.

It’s All About Education, Communication and Collaboration on Saturday should provide Erin Ferlet (Columbus Chapter) with the information she needs to develop the student nurse professional development program at her hospital.

Congratulations to all 20 recipients. We’re excited to see how attending Congress will help them grow in their careers. What sessions are on your list?

First-Timer’s Guide to Congress

First Timers

By Jen Krause, ONS Director of National Conferences

It’s finally 2016, and that means it’s the year of “Big Change” for us at ONS. For some of you, that might mean making your first trip to San Antonio for the ONS 41st Annual Congress. It’s an exciting new adventure, so you’ll want to be prepared when you get there. Consider these simple tips to make your first trip to Congress just right.

Leading up to the conference, you’ll want to acquaint yourself with all the great events available to you. Get choosey and select which ones you’d like to attend. You can create your own personalized schedule to know exactly where you need to be over the course of Congress. In March, download the Congress mobile app to have your schedule right at your fingertips throughout the conference.

When it comes to packing, you’ll want to make sure you bring items that will keep you comfortable all day long while still looking professional. It’s important to wear your comfy shoes, as you’ll be on your feet for most of the day. We try to keep the temperature at a reasonable level, but you may want to bring a sweater along just in case. And don’t forget to take your tech. We’ll have free Wi-Fi in session rooms, so remember to bring your mobile phone, tablet, or laptop computer to take notes and get in on the virtual conversation on social media. You can tweet or post any important 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! And finally, don’t forget your business cards so you can easily share contact information with all the other professionals you meet. You never know when you’ll make an acquaintance that turns into a valuable career connection.

As with any trip, it’s always important to tag your bag. Make sure your luggage stands out by attaching your very own Congress luggage tag—it will come in the mail with your attendee information in late March. When you’re retrieving your bags, you won’t have to search and scour the luggage carousel. You can also spot others who are arriving in San Antonio for Congress and make some connections before you even leave the airport.

We’ll be hosting a “Congress 101” session for new attendees and those who need a refresher on the evening of Wednesday, April 27, with an encore presentation early Thursday morning. Be sure to attend to learn all of the Congress lingo, figure out how to navigate the conference, and hear tips from seasoned Congress attendees. It will get your trip off to a great start and have you ready for the days ahead.

If you haven’t already, save your spot in San Antonio today. We can’t wait to see you there!

Happy Anniversary, ONCC!

ONCC Anniversary

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

ONCC and ONS Congress have a long history together—one that dates back over 30 years. In fact, the OCN® examination was offered for the first time in 1986 at the ONS 11th Annual Congress in Los Angeles, CA. For a number of years, the test was only administered once a year at Congress.

In 2016, ONCC is celebrating 30 years of certification. Given this shared history, it seems apropos for ONCC to commemorate this milestone at Congress. The Certification Oasis, the hub for ONCC activities in the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, will be the starting point. Look for a unique interactive display, “The Faces of Certification,” where you can be a part of the celebration.  While you’re in the convention center, take a few minutes to see our walking timeline, depicting key points in ONCC history. If you’re certified, plan to attend the ONCC Recognition Breakfast for Oncology Certified Nurses, where you’ll receive a special anniversary gift. Throughout the conference, we’ll share photos and videos of certified nurses then and now and give away some fun prizes.

Much has changed since that first OCN® exam was offered in 1986. The test is no longer offered at Congress. Paper and pencil tests—including the sealed test booklets, number two pencils, and big pink erasers—have given way to computer-based testing. Today’s nurses take their exams throughout the year, at testing centers located close to home and across the globe. Although the OCN® test is still the most popular choice, there are now five other examinations for nurses to validate their knowledge in advanced practice, subspecialty areas, and pediatric oncology/hematology.

Throughout the years, ONCC’s presence at Congress has remained strong. This year, there’s more to celebrate than ever as we look back on the past 30 years and kick off the exciting times to come. Whether you’ve been certified for years or are planning to earn your credential soon, stop by the Certification Oasis and join in the fun.

Transform Your Transfusion Knowledge


By Nancy Corbitt, BSN, RN, OCN®, CRNI

A newly-diagnosed patient with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) arrives to your floor and is under your care for the next 12 hours. It is very likely that this particular patient will be experiencing disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) due to the presenting disease. You’ll need to transfuse multiple blood products to the patient to ensure a positive outcome.

Whether you work inpatient or outpatient oncology, transfusing blood products can be a daily task. Have you ever wondered why blood products need to be irradiated, leukocyte reduced, or Cytomegalovirus (CMV) negative for the oncology population? If you have been practicing for a while, have you noticed that the transfusion threshold for platelets and packed red bloods has changed? What does the evidence tell us?

Attend “Grand Rounds: Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) and Unique Blood Product Requirements,” presented by Nicole Draper, MD, on Saturday morning of Congress to discuss the need for multiple and different types of blood products. You’ll experience a case-based study of a new APL patient and will also discuss the nuts and bolts of blood product administration.

Be sure to mark your schedule for Saturday, April 30, from 9:45–11 am to hear this intriguing presentation about APL and best practices for blood product infusions.