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, 10% of the 2014 ONS Congress attendees last year were younger than 30 years old. More than 38% of attendees had been in nursing for less than five years and 46% had worked in oncology for less than five years. When I compare this to the full ONS membership, this is a representative cohort.

So to all of you who are relatively new to oncology, I extend a special invitation to attend the ONS 40th Annual Congress from April 23–26, 2015, in Orlando, FL. To those of you who are older 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 moved to a single annual meeting. 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 educationtopics@ons.org.

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

This article originally appeared on the ONS Connect site at http://connect.ons.org/ons-connect-blog/all-oncology-nurses-especially-those-new-to-oncology-should-attend-congress.

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