Taming the Elephant in the Room


By Anne Katz, PhD, RN, FAAN

On the very last day of Congress, I have the honor and pleasure of presenting about a topic that has been a passion of mine for a long time. As nurses, we’ve all had to have a challenging or sensitive conversation with a patient and/or family. Many of us have blushed and stumbled through these discussions, often wishing for the floor to open up and swallow us whole! Most of our non-nurse friends would find it hard to believe the things we have to talk to patients about—and most of them would have a really hard time finding the words to say what we have to say.

No matter how experienced you are, we all have barriers to talking about something. For some of us, talking about financial issues with patients is the line we cannot cross. For others, starting the conversation about end-of-life issues is enough to bring us to tears. Still others would rather walk on hot coals than address sexuality issues with patients who are old enough to be our parents (or grandparents). And how many of us are comfortable telling a patient that they need to lose weight? These topics are the elephant in the room—a two-ton beast that we try to ignore.

In “The Elephant in the Room” (did I mention it’s on Sunday, May 1, 2016?), I’ll tell you some stories and provide tools to help you have these conversations. You may still blush and stumble over the words, but I hope you’ll be a little less flushed and just a bit more steady after attending.

You see, I believe that communication is at the heart of nursing. Sure, caring is important. So are technical skills. Knowing some math is important if you need to calculate doses and drip rates (yes, I do know that hardly anyone has to do that anymore!). A good memory doesn’t hurt either when you need to remember names of drugs (and names of patients!). But being able to communicate is the foundation of everything we do as nurses. We talk to each other, and we talk to our students. We talk to our physician colleagues, and we talk to support staff and other members of the team. But mostly, we talk to our patients. In our talking, we educate and inform and encourage and support. And yes, we have to talk about the difficult stuff. And that causes some of us anxiety, especially when the topic is sensitive and loaded with feelings or something that we’ve never been taught to talk about. So some of us do it badly or don’t do it at all, even though we know that if we don’t do it, no one will.

So join me in one of the last sessions of what promises to be the best Congress ever as we reduce that two-ton elephant into a tiny toy that we can leave behind in San Antonio as we make our way home. You won’t miss that beast… I’ll make sure of that!

Take Advantage of Funding from the ONS Foundation to Attend Congress


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

Do you really need be thinking about attending the ONS 41st Annual Congress already? The conference may not begin until April 2016, but if you’re interested in a Congress or Emerging Chapter Leader scholarship offered by the ONS Foundation, you should be planning now. Every year, the ONS Foundation provides scholarships for nurses to attend the Congress, and deadlines to apply are quickly approaching. In 2015, the foundation provided Congress scholarships to 98 oncology nurses. You could be a 2016 recipient.

The Congress content planning team of volunteer oncology nurses from around the country are working hard to develop outstanding educational sessions for the 2016 event. You don’t want to miss out on this great experience, and now is your opportunity to apply for a scholarship to help offset the expenses of attending.

Still wondering why you should go to Congress? Past scholarship recipients can convince you why it’s the biggest and best oncology nursing conference around.

Karen S. from Wisconsin looked forward to hearing about the most current developments within the field as well as finding ways to improve the care of her patients and their families.

Christine F. from Pennsylvania shares, “Congress gives us the opportunity to stay up to date, which is so important in the ever-changing and exciting field of oncology. Knowledge and networking are key to being a successful oncology nurse.”

Meg H. from Virginia felt confident she would return from Congress a better nurse to her patients, colleague to her cancer team, and with an overall invigorated spirit. And let’s not forget the holistic aspects as shared by Deb B. of Iowa, “Attending Congress renews my spirit, inspires, and energizes me!”

Worried you won’t get selected for a scholarship? That thought was on the mind of Crystal C. from Louisiana when she took the leap to apply for the Emerging Chapter Leaders scholarship that sent her to Congress. Yes, you too can really receive a scholarship.

Karen S. summed the scholarship up nicely by saying Congress was “…an unrivaled opportunity for learning and connection with other nurse leaders.”

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to receive a scholarship. Take just a few minutes today to apply for an ONS Foundation 2016 Congress Scholarship (due December 1) or an Emerging Chapter Leader Scholarship (due November 15). You won’t regret it!

Special thanks to 2015 ONS Foundation Congress and Emerging Leader scholarship recipients mentioned in this post.

BIG Changes for 2016: A Congress Theme Fit for Texas


By Jen Krause, ONS Director of National Conferences

Ask anyone in marketing or communications. Coming up with a theme for anything—whether it’s a conference, Oncology Nursing Month, or a staff activity—is tough. You want it to not only be catchy and clever but also infused with a deeper meaning and message.

ONS members and staff have been putting plans in place to reinvigorate our annual conference for a while now. One part of that work entailed bringing back a Congress theme—a unifying thread that can be woven throughout the conference to bring about a sense of cohesiveness while creating a unique attendee experience. After reaching out to our members and reflecting on what we want Congress attendees to think, feel, and know at Congress, a light bulb went off.

Big Change Starts Here.

Why? Well, first off, everything’s bigger in Texas, right? That includes Congress, but that’s only a small piece of it. Congress is all about oncology nurses. We want you to leave San Antonio thinking differently; feeling inspired, engaged, and connected; and knowing that you are a vital part of the cancer care community.

This year’s Congress is bringing some great new changes to meet the needs of oncology nurses, but that’s a story for another post.* Today, we’re talking about you and the critical role you play in achieving ONS’s vision “to lead the transformation of cancer care.”

Big change starts with you. One change that you implement in your practice because of a new finding at Congress can have an impact on hundreds of patients’ lives. One nurse, like you, makes a difference. When more than 3,000 nurses come together, they elevate the role of their profession and advance excellence in cancer care.

Let Congress be the spark you need to enhance your patient care, take the next step in your career, and advocate for your profession. You are the big change. You’ll be learning, networking, and thinking in a big way.

Please take a few minutes to check out our theme presentation that two of ONS’s talented staff members—Marketing Coordinator Caitlin Ionadi and Creative Services Manager Eric Marchetta—put together. It’s short, sweet, and worth a watch.

*Check back soon. We’ll have a number of posts in the “BIG Changes for 2016” series leading up to Congress!

Ten Reasons You Should Submit an Abstract for Presentation at the ONS 41st Annual Congress


By Linda H. Eaton, PhD, RN, AOCN®

Have you ever considered submitting an abstract for presentation at Congress, but you don’t end up doing so due to lack of time or lack of experience? Luckily, abstracts aren’t due until September 30, so plenty of time is available, and experience is only gained by writing abstracts. It really does get easier the more you do it, and it will benefit your patients and your career in the long run. In fact, here are 10 reasons why you should submit an abstract for presentation at Congress.

  1. Assistance is available for writing an awesome abstract through the ONS Mentorship Program for Abstract Writers—just contact ONS Education toll free at 866-257-4ONS or by email at absquestion@ons.org.
  2. It allows you to be creative in visually sharing your presentation as either a printed poster, e-poster, or PowerPoint presentation.
  3. Your abstract is published in the Oncology Nursing Forum, which is distributed to more than 35,000 ONS members.
  4. You meet other oncology nurses and healthcare providers who are interested in your topic.
  5. Sharing your work improves the care of individuals with cancer across the country.
  6. Talking with others about your project or research study is fun. (It really is!)
  7. You improve your presentation skills, an important competence for advancing your career.
  8. It’s a great addition to your resume to make you stand out among potential job candidates.
  9. Your work increases the knowledge of oncology nurses and others attending the conference.
  10. It showcases your hard work at an amazing conference with your peers.

As you can see, submitting and presenting an abstract provides great benefits, both to you and others. There’s no time like the present, so view the submission instructions and start writing today!

Plus, remember that late-breaking research abstracts will be accepted December 28, 2015–January 15, 2016. Late-breaking research abstracts focus on novel data from studies that were recently completed.

Distress Screening: The Sixth Vital Sign

Distress Screening

By Anne Katz, PhD, RN, FAAN

Screening for distress is an essential part of providing comprehensive care for our patients—and many of us do this as a matter of course. However the literature suggests that distress screening is not done routinely and as a result, patients are not offered the help they need to get through active treatment and the aftermath in recovery and long term survival.

In tomorrow morning’s session, Linda Watson, RN, PhD, CON, will provide the audience with an overview of the complexity of the cancer experience for our patients and how this impacts on the need for personalized care. She will further highlight how nurses can incorporate screening for distress as part of routine nursing care and how this ultimately enhances our practice and the care we provide.

Using case studies and encouraging audience participation, Watson will show how screening for distress helps us to identify when patients are distressed, how to assess for this bothersome symptom, and how we can help patients manage their distress.

The Commission on Cancer requires screening for distress as an accreditation standard—so if you have not attended an educational session on this topic or need a refresher, this is one session you can’t miss.

New! ePosters at the ONS 40th Annual Congress


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

You may have heard that Congress will feature ePosters for the first time this year. But what exactly does that mean? An ePoster uses a large monitor and computer to display multimedia versions of a scientific poster versus the traditional printed poster. It gives the presenter an opportunity to more effectively convey information that would not necessarily be possible with a traditional printed poster, and it enhances visualization to attract interest of attendees. This method of presentation is being used by more than 25 poster presenters at the ONS 40th Annual Congress.

You can attend the ePoster presentations during the following sessions held in the Orange County Convention Center Valencia Lobby:

ePoster presenters will stand next to a large TV monitor to present their poster.  The monitors have the capability to zoom in on sections of the poster during a five-minute presentation of the work. The presenters will be available for questions during these times. You can get a preview of the ePosters in the poster session description now.

More than 200 posters total will be presented between the ePosters, general posters, and research poster sessions. In addition to the 1 CNE contact hour you will receive for attending a poster session, you can earn additional contact hours by independently reviewing the posters. For every 20 posters you review, you’ll receive 1 contact hour. Look in your conference guide for a worksheet to help you track the posters you review.

Obesity and Cancer

Obesity Veggies

By Anne Katz, PhD, RN, FAAN

Obesity is on its way to replacing tobacco as the number one preventable or modifiable cause of cancer.

Does that statement shock you? It certainly is something to think about—and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) thinks that this is such a serious issue that they devoted an issue of ASCO Connection to this topic.

On Thursday from 1:30–3 pm, you can learn more obesity and cancer from Adrienne Wald, EdD, MBA, RN, MCHES, an expert on the subject. The evidence she will present is alarming; a number of cancers, including breast, endometrial, prostate, renal, and colorectal, are associated with obesity. Obesity increases the risk of recurrence, has a negative impact on survival, and complicates screening and treatment planning. It also places the patient at risk of complications from chemotherapy. Are you convinced yet?

If not, attend this session and learn about behavioral approaches to managing weight that all nurses can incorporate into our care of patients. You will hear about the barriers to change for our patients (and even ourselves!) and how to motivate and encourage patients to incorporate strategies for wellness into their daily lives.

Cancer is a teachable moment—this session will show you why and how we can capitalize on this to improve the lives of our patients.

Help ONS Look Forward in an Innovation Exchange

Booth Chat

By Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN, ONS Chief Executive Officer

Do you have an idea to share with the ONS Board? Would you like to know what your colleagues have to say about what’s happening in their work environment? At the ONS 40th Annual Congress, we are introducing a new approach for members and the Board to connect and discuss current issues in oncology nursing and cancer care. Two Innovation Exchange sessions are being offered on Friday in the learning hall and will serve as a substitute for the usual single Town Hall session. The Board and staff are in the process of developing the 2016–2018 strategic plan, and these sessions give members an opportunity to discuss what trends and changes they are seeing in the cancer care environment. As a member association, ONS has been built on the ideas and needs of members. Questions that will guide the conversation include: What issues are you facing in your day-to-day practice? What do you see coming down the road that will affect you and your patients? What can ONS do to make your life easier?

I hope you will attend one of the sessions and share your views.  We are looking forward to your feedback to help ONS move through the next 40 years and beyond.

Making Strides in Survivorship Care


By Anne Katz, PhD, RN, FAAN

The number of cancer survivors grows every year, and with their increasing numbers comes an increasing need to provide them with care in this phase of the cancer trajectory. The 2006 Institute of Medicine report, “Lost in Transition,” highlighted the importance of survivorship care, and the Commission on Cancer requires the provision of survivorship care plans for cancer survivors as an accreditation standard.

So what is the state of the science on survivorship? In Survivorship Care: Moving Beyond Being Lost in Transition on Saturday, April 25, from 1:30–3 pm, Deborah K. Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN, will highlight the survivorship needs of the millions of cancer survivors who have passed through our institutions. She will present the latest data on models of survivorship care, the unmet needs of this population, and the symptom burden carried by cancer survivors as they move through life after treatment. In addition, she will present evidence on the state of practice with survivorship care plans as well as providing audience members with resources for their own practice to help in the provision of excellent survivorship care.

This session is essential for all nurses as we work towards ensuring that our patients have the tools to live their post-treatment life as well as possible, while balancing the need for surveillance of long-term and late effects of treatment. By attending this session, nurses will be able to support their colleagues and institutions in this vital aspect of cancer care, now and in the future.

Attend this session live in Orlando or join remotely through Congress Live Streaming.

The Advantages of Non-CNE Events at Congress


By Gena Middleton, MS, RN, CNS, AOCNS®, Account Manager, ONS:Edge

Improving patient outcomes is the common goal of all oncology nurse education, yet sometimes important disease state and product-specific information is not discussed during CNE offerings. 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.

As a Congress attendee, you’ll have the opportunity to network with peers at these events, share your patient management experiences, and ask questions to industry representatives and nurse educators who have extensive product knowledge and clinical experience. Upon returning home, you can share the key points about specific agents with your colleagues.

Your active participation in non-CNE educational events plays an important role in providing safe and quality care to patients. These events also serve to provide pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers with clinical nurses’ perspectives, including the patient journey and challenges with administration, adherence, and access. They use this information when developing educational resources and support programs designed to meet the unique educational needs of oncology nurses, patients, and caregivers. Get involved to learn from others and share your expertise!

ONS:Edge is hosting many non-CNE learning opportunities this year, including product theaters, lunch and dinner programs, and receptions to encourage networking. Keep an eye on the ONS:Edge Live Events page for upcoming non-CNE opportunities at Congress and beyond!