Written by Anne Ireland, MSN, RN, AOCN®, CENP
Sometimes 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope to see you all in Anaheim—young or not-so-young!