Prepare for Taking the Certified Breast Care Nurse Exam


Photo credit: John Twohig Photography via photopin cc

By Debbie J. Tuttle RN, FNP-BC, DNP, AOCNS®, CBCN®

Are you considering breast care certification, but aren’t sure where to start? You may prefer going to the dentist over taking a test, but starting today, our special interest group (SIG) members will share the painless methods you can use to take this important step in your professional development. Join us at the Breast Care SIG poster today from noon–12:30 pm and 3:30–4 pm. We’ll also be around Friday, May 2, from 9:30–10 am and noon–12:30 pm.

Our SIG members who have recently taken the exam are excited to offer support to get you started or to help you develop a study plan. Please visit us in the special interest group area and meet with one of our Certified Breast Care Nurses (CBCNs), who will give you practical tips, suggestions, and resources that others have used to successfully pass the exam. You can also try your hand at answering some test questions, either by yourself or with a group. We promise, no Novocain necessary!

Build on Your Congress Enthusiasm With a MAP

Map blog photoBy Deb Christensen, RN, BSN, HNB-BC

Congress will renew your enthusiasm for oncology nursing and give you fresh ideas for personal and professional growth. But are you ready to focus that enthusiasm into attainable actions?

If you want to see results from your time in Anaheim, I invite you to try the beta version of my motivational action plan (MAP), a simple planning tool that can be used evaluate the impact and outcomes that of a national conference like Congress. You can use your MAP to define the strategic steps to transform health care and enhance your personal growth. The process is simple—the results can be profound.

Creating a MAP prior to returning home from Congress is easily accomplished, and you can structure it in such a way that all of your objectives can be reached. The MAP has a minimum of one, but no more than three, focused objectives per conference or educational activity. Your MAP will contain two pages: one for use during conference presentations and as idea capture tool, and another as a more formal planning document that details specific measurable actions and time frames.

The abundance of information packed into a gathering of like-minded peers can be overwhelming, leading even the most determined nurse to ask, “Where do I start?” That’s why developing a strategy now will ensure that the motivation you’ll build at Congress makes it home and into practice. Formal planning is also a natural process for oncology nurses, who understand the value of formal tools in organizing measurable steps in an endeavor.

When you beta-test the MAP project, you’ll also receive an electronic file, instructions for use, and a link to a short survey afterward. I’m looking forward to receiving your feedback!

#TellONS What You Think About Our New Conference Format

Brian Theil blog post photo

By Brian K. Theil, CAE

Have you heard the news? ONS is consolidating our annual Congress with the Connections: Advancing Care Through Science conference. Throughout 2014 and 2015, we’ll evolve the current Congress format to incorporate programs that serve all of our members: novice to expert oncology nurses in general and advanced specialty practice, management, education, and research. This powerful opportunity will bring together ONS members in all practice settings and at all career levels, providing a richer learning experience for all.

What should the new conference experience be like? You tell us! We’ll post a question of the day on the ONS Facebook and Twitter pages from Thursday–Saturday. Please share your ideas with us in the Facebook comments, or use the hashtag #TellONS to share your ideas. When you do, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free one-year ONS membership. If you visit the ONS booth and show us your post/tweet, we’ll give you an extra ticket for the attendee raffle!

To make sure our new conference meets your goals, we will also be conducting focus groups with different member segments. Along with ONS Board member Debbie Walker, I’ll be holding an open forum discussion about our national conferences on Friday, May 2, from 1–1:45 pm. Please tell us what matters to you then at The Future of ONS National Conferences.

These next two years will be an exciting time of change for ONS conferences, and I’m looking forward to your participation in that process.

Visit the Special Interest Group Area

SIG areaThere are lots of events to explore at Congress. Make the special interest group (SIG) area in Hall A one of them!

We’ve set aside space for you to network with your SIG members, or if you haven’t joined any SIGs, to choose some that match your career background and interests. ONS has 27 diverse SIGs which span career tracks (those like the Nurse Navigator, Surgical Oncology, or Acute and Critical Care SIGs) and oncology nursing topics (such as the Lymphedema, Pain Management, and Prevention/Early Detection SIGs). Their in-person and online networking opportunities are free to ONS members.

In addition to presenting posters on their progress and recent activities, many SIGs will hold special activities in the hub throughout Congress. The Complementary and Integrative Therapies SIG will give demonstrations on meditation, reflexology and healing touch, sheng zhen gong, clinical hypnosis, and reiki therapy. The Spiritual Care SIG will have several stations that will give you time for individual reflection, utilizing the senses, purposeful thought, and the arts. It will also feature a Dedication of the Hands ceremony on Saturday, May 3.

Get to know some friendly faces in the ONS SIG area, and take your ONS membership to the next level.

How to Educate the New Oncology Advanced Practice Registered Nurse

Educating New Oncology Advanced Practice Nurses

Copyright Elvis Kennedy.

By Heather Brom, MS, RN, CNP

I was about as green as could be when I accepted my first oncology nurse practitioner position caring for BMT patients across the inpatient and outpatient settings. To say I was a deer in the headlights was an understatement!  I had joined a wonderful and dynamic team who was attempting to keep up with the growth of their program while balancing the learning needs of the four nurse practitioners they had hired in a six-month span.

There were so many acronyms and abbreviations that at times they felt like a foreign language. I also was attempting to make sense of what I learned in nursing school, which was focused on primary care, while integrating that knowledge within the acute and specialized setting in which I was practicing.

The first 18 months were overwhelming. I often found myself doubting my career choice, but my passion for caring for patients with cancer kept me going. Finally, about two years in, I found my stride.

As I moved on to other roles in our organization, I saw a trend. Our hospital’s growth was tremendous, and the need for providers was substantial. To meet this demand, we often hired novice nurse practitioners and/or those with no oncology experience. Many of these new oncology nurse practitioners struggled just like I did in their first few years. We felt there was more we could do as an organization to support their development.

Our story is not unique, as many cancer programs struggle with the best way to “onboard” and educate their advanced practice staff. That’s why Margaret Rosenzeweig, Stephanie Schulte and I will be presenting Preparing for Practice: Educating the New Oncology Advanced Practice Registered Nurse on Friday, May 2 at Congress.

Join us to learn about different options for effectively educating your new oncology advanced practice registered nurses.  We’ll share our experiences with a university-based cancer program and fellowship. We’ll also share unique ways to engage other resources, such as librarians, to develop your staff’s knowledge and confidence.

Career Moves in Oncology Nursing: What Comes Next?

Oncology Nursing Career Moves

Written by Colleen O’Leary, MSN, RN, AOCNS®

I am convinced that if oncology nurses were more familiar with the vast array of opportunities for those with advanced degrees, we would have a glut of nurses with advanced knowledge and expertise. I’ve had many conversations with nurses who say they want to continue their education, but who simply don’t know all of the options available to them.

Often I hear that they are familiar with the nurse practitioner role. They see nurse practitioners in the hospital, in their doctor’s office, and even at now-popular walk-in clinics. But how many know about the other oncology advanced practice nursing roles? Do you know what a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) does? How about a clinical nurse manager (CNM), certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), clinical nurse leader (CNL), or clinical nurse educator (CNE)? Beyond that, you can explore a multitude of educational credentials, including the PhD and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

I will be presenting Digesting the Alphabet Soup of Nursing: Choosing Your Career Path on Sunday, May 4, at Congress. Join me to learn what an oncology nursing career trajectory looks like, understand how to start planning for what comes next, and get answers to the following questions.

  • What’s the difference between an oncology advanced practice nurse and other advanced nursing roles?
  • How do I get onto a management track?
  • What path do I take if oncology nursing education or research is my forte?
  • What roles are common throughout each oncology nursing title and what is unique?
  • What does an oncology nursing job look like for each title—or what can I make it look like?

No one starts out with all the answers. Nursing was my second career, and I was a bedside oncology nurse for many years. As life changed, I moved to another city and eventually into a position that was part staff education, part bedside nursing. I thought that’s what I’d do for the rest of my nursing career. I had no desire to go to graduate school, didn’t want to be a nurse practitioner, and wasn’t going to take the GRE exam, for sure.

But as I progressed in my career, I was mentored by some excellent advanced practice nurses, who taught me that there were so many opportunities for oncology advanced practice nurses than I ever knew about. With their inspiration and encouragement, I returned to school and became an oncology CNS. What a great move! I’m now supporting patients and families throughout their disease journey, encouraging our nurses’ professional development, and working within my system to ensure that we are doing the best for our patients based on the strongest evidence available.

Let me help you figure out your next move during Choosing Your Career Path at Congress. There’s a whole world of opportunity for you!

Learn How to Manage Premature Ovarian Failure

Written by Joanne Kelvin, RN, MSN, AOCN®

premature ovarian failure

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Does this scenario sound familiar?

Susan is a 35-year old survivor of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, treated with rituximab, ifosfamide, carboplatin, and etoposide. During your assessment at her five-year follow up visit, she tearfully reports that she and her husband have been unsuccessful in trying to get pregnant for the past year. They recently had a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist, and she has learned that she is infertile because of premature ovarian failure.

Does this patient’s experience raise any of the following questions for you?

  • Did you consider her to be at risk for premature ovarian failure because of her prior treatment?
  • Is there something you could have offered before treatment to increase the likelihood of her being able to have a biologic child after treatment?
  • Is there something you could have done to better assess her for this risk during her previous follow-up visits?
  • What can you do now to minimize the health implications of ovarian failure for this young woman and to help her adjust to this new reality?

Though premature ovarian failure is a devastating diagnosis, there is much you can do as an oncology nurse to minimize its associated health consequences. On Saturday, May 3, from 10:15 to 11:45 AM, Elaine Pottenger and I are presenting Premature Ovarian Failure: Etiology, Impact, and Management. We hope you will join us to lean how to better anticipate who is at risk, assess for associated signs and symptoms, and intervene early to effectively manage the care of young female cancer survivors.

Get Your PICO On During an Evidence-Based Practice Session

Written by Michele E. Gaguski, MSN, RN, AOCN®, CHPN, APN-C, Amy Deutsch, DNP, RN, AOCNS®, and Marisol Hernandez, MLS, MA

Photo credit: yum9me via photopin cc

Photo credit: yum9me via photopin cc

Do you have a burning clinical question or ideas for an evidence-based practice change, but are unsure of where to start? Are you passionate about improving care for patients? Have you done lots of work to advance practice, but do not know how to share your story?

If this sounds like you, don’t miss the preconference session From Concept to Conclusion: Success Factors for Leading Evidence-Based Practice in Oncology Nursing. Held on April 30, 2014, this interactive program will lead participants through the steps of implementing evidence-based practice change in their work setting. You’ll begin to see how easy this process can be! We’ll walk you through formulating your idea into a reasonable question to learning about keyword search strategies and applying them to databases like PubMed, CINAHL, and TRIP.

To get you thinking, we’ll include a team exercise on developing a PICO (Patient population, Intervention, Comparison, and Outcome) question. We’ll share a case exemplar of evidence-based practice on the frontlines, including how to build your team, stay focused, overcome barriers, and implement strategies that work to plan, implement, and disseminate your outcomes. As an extra bonus, we’ll discuss ONS PEP (Putting Evidence into Practice) resources and demo a live search of clinical research questions.

After this session, you’ll be able to develop a PICO question, create search strategies, identify high-quality journal articles, and build a strong project team to envision success. We’re looking forward to helping you enhance patient care in your facility.

Calling All Oncology Nurses to Congress—Especially the Young Ones

Written by Anne Ireland, MSN, RN, AOCN®, CENP

ONS CongressSometimes I hear nursing colleagues of my generation say that younger nurses are not engaged in their work environments, are not driven to develop new skills, and are not interested in giving to their professional organizations. These conversations make me personally sad and professionally afraid for the future of nursing and the viability of ONS. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I look for exemplars and data that prove this conversation is simply not accurate. I am not disappointed.

I see young nurses (who are often also young parents) advancing their education, presenting at conferences, taking on leadership roles in their local chapters, and engaged in councils and committees at their organizations.

Reviewing the ONS database, 8% of the 2013 ONS Congress attendees last year were less than 30 years old. Almost 20% of attendees had been in nursing for less than five years and 22% had worked in oncology for less than five years. When I compare this to the full ONS membership, this is a representative cohort, with the exception of the “years in oncology” area. In fact, more than 40% of our members have been in oncology for five years or less.

So to all of you who are relatively new to oncology, I extend a special invitation to attend the 39th ONS Congress from May 1–4, 2014 in Anaheim, CA. To those of you who are “more than 30” and coming again, I look forward to seeing you there and challenge you to bring a young oncology nursing colleague with you.

I recall my first year at Congress, more than 25 years ago now, and feel indebted to the experienced Congress attendee who took it upon herself to help me navigate the multitude of sessions, exhibits, forums, and educational programs.

As you may have heard, ONS will be moving to a single annual meeting beginning in 2015. Our goal is to hold a single meeting that will meet the needs of our entire membership: new nurses, “new to oncology” nurses, frontline nurses, advanced practice nurses, nurse researchers, corporate/industry nurses, and nurse educators. We need your input and invite your active participation in helping us transform our annual meeting into a venue that not only meets, but exceeds your expectations.

We invite and welcome your suggestions so we can deliver a meeting that has each of you wanting to attend every year. Please send your ideas to us directly at

I hope to see you all in Anaheim—young or not-so-young!

Are Survivorship Care Plans Meeting Survivors’ Needs?

Jamie Myers blog photo

photo credit: Camil Tulcan via photopin cc

Written by Jamie Myers, PhD, RN, AOCN® and A. Nicole Spray, APRN

We all are working very hard to develop meaningful survivorship care plans that meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations. But how do we know if our plans are working to meet the needs of both survivors and the primary care practitioner?

To help answer those questions, Nicole Spray and I interviewed a primary care physician, a physician’s assistant, and two survivors in urban and rural settings. We’ll be sharing video clips of these interviews during our upcoming Congress session, “Are Survivorship Care Plans Meeting Survivors’ Needs?” Each interviewee had valuable insights about desired care plan content, communication flow, and the use of electronic medical records.

Our interviewees taught us a great deal about the gaps between oncology and primary care and how care plans can better benefit survivors. We expect to learn a great deal from you, too! During our session, we’ll be including an open-mic component where you can share your own successes and challenges in survivorship care planning, delivery, and evaluation.

If you’re interested in learning more about survivorship before Congress, check out Patient Satisfaction With Breast and Colorectal Cancer Survivorship Care Plans, a recent CJON article that helped to inspire our session. Our session is sponsored by the Survivorship, Quality of Life, and Rehabilitation SIG, which all ONS members can join for free to network about survivorship issues.

We can’t wait to see you in Anaheim!