Attendees from the ONS 41st Annual Congress were invited to write a blog post to share the Big Change they experienced as a result of attending Congress. Congratulations to Leslie Prusik, RN, OCN®, on submitting an honorable mention and receiving a free one-year membership!

By: Leslie Prusik, RN, OCN®

The 41st Annual Congress in San Antonio, TX, was my first time at Congress. What an experience! I am the manager of oncology services and was given the opportunity to take two of my employees with me this year. We attended some of the same sessions as well as broke out into separate ones to be able to bring back to our community and our patients what we have learned.

Upon returning, we presented to our staff some of the key elements and sessions that we felt were either of great importance or were up-and-coming therapies. We shared information on immunology and how the face of cancer treatment is changing. We informed our colleagues about the head and neck cancer presentation, in which the speaker had established a head and neck committee at her facility, along with a way to provide simple handouts to educate her patients.

The presentation on head and neck cancers was combined with a session on dental oncology. It made for an interesting and exciting presentation to bring back home. We are now establishing a head and neck committee here, and we’re working with the dental community to assist us with treating our patients at cost. This will hugely impact our head and neck cancer population, and we’re very excited to improve the quality of life for these patients.

The session I shared with my colleagues, from a leadership perspective, was focused on compassion fatigue. I expressed my concern for nurses and caregivers, and the toll that our work takes—whether we realize it or not. I have put in place a plan to create a “renewal room” for my staff. Hopefully, this will encourage a space where they can go for 5 minutes to just “get away” and take a moment for themselves to regroup.

The renewal room will consist of a comforting light source, a recliner, soft music, words of inspiration on the walls, as well as a community journal to be kept there for all who want to participate either by reading previous entries or creating ones of their own.

We also implemented a walking group, where staff can sign up and walk either before or after work. At our facility, we have a beautiful campus surrounded by a walking track and wooded area with water fountains. In the Congress session I attended, they surveyed staff stress prior to incorporating self-care modalities and found that after 8 weeks of only 2-3 days of 30-minute self-care activities, the scores were dramatically better. I shared the statistics with my staff, expressing my concern for them and for all the great care they give our patients. After all, we need to make sure we’re taking great care of them.