Alec Stone, MA, MPA, Public Affairs Director
Too often, ONS members lament that, as nurses, they have a limited voice. Shaking my head in disbelief, it’s a pleasure to let them know that the Gallup Poll, a national public opinion survey, recently ranked nurses as the most trusted profession in the United States for the 18th year in a row!
With that information in hand, it is incumbent upon oncology nurses to embrace their natural advocacy tendencies and apply them to the public policy environment. There are so many aspects to being a nurse—more than just the important clinical work—that even ONS’s own members underestimate their power. Yes, power, because in the policy and political world, power is a perceived and real strength. Power in expertise. Power in numbers. Power in commitment. Oncology nurses have all of these and need to learn to exercise it for the many health policy priorities that are important to ONS—palliative care, clinical trials, drug evaluation, workforce safety, patient-centered care . . . just to name a few.
Yes, it’s a different time in Washington, DC. Certainly, the rhetoric is high and the level of discontent is palpable. However, that is actually more of a reason for nurses to step up and provide evidence-based research and emotional stories about patients and families surviving cancer to decision-makers. Those in power and influenced by power are bombarded by advocacy efforts, but few have the cachet that nurses possess and could use to change health care.
If any of this sparks an interest, and if you’d like to learn more about what ONS is doing in health policy, both in Washington and in your own backyard, reserve some time on your ONS Congress calendar for the convention’s exhibit hall and get some real insight into activism. Moonshot, childhood cancers, safe handling of hazardous materials, opioids, and drug costs—we will talk about the latest policy initiatives and the impact on oncology nursing.
Please join me and Dede Sweeney, ONS Director of Government Relations, at Congress to learn more about these important issues and how individually, and collectively, oncology nurses can make a real difference in advocacy. See you there!