John Hollman, BSN, RN, OCN®

The 2018 Congress event in Washington, D.C., was my first opportunity to attend this amazing gathering of thousands of fellow oncology nurses. As a seasoned radiation oncology nurse, I was so excited to be in attendance during the first year that we had a dedicated radiation oncology track. After registering, I made sure to read through all of the instructions on how to get the most out of Congress. I downloaded the 2018 Congress app on my phone, which allowed me to set my daily schedule—where I needed to be and when.

Check-in was well organized, and soon I was obtaining my welcome tote bag loaded with tons of useful guides, schedules, and my show badge. Getting used to the layout of the convention hall was easier than I believed it would be, thanks in large part to the helpful ONS staff members around every corner.

My very first session was titled Radiation 101. I was so excited to be surrounded by 300–400 fellow radiation nurses. The session was meant to be an introduction to radiation, but in my opinion, you can never learn enough about your specialty. It was a great refresher, and I was able to sit and talk with radiation nurses from all over the country. Email addresses were shared so we could continue the conversation and exchange ideas on workflow, side-effect management, and other radiation nursing tips and tricks.

In between learning sessions, I spent time in the Learning Hall. I was able to visit multiple vendors, specifically those related to new products to help with radiation side effects. I took this new information, and I was able to bring it back home and inform my radiation oncologists. I am happy to report that we are now using some of the new products with excellent results.

Toward the end of Congress, I attended a highly motivating session designed to empower oncology nurses in expanding their role and involvement in their institution. It was so refreshing to hear I wasn’t alone in my daily nursing struggles and frustrations. I left the session with a renewed dedication to improve not only my own well-being but also my patient care.

I am honored to be on the 2019 ONS Congress Planning Committee. I never realized or appreciated all the hard work and planning that goes on behind the scenes. The theme of Growing Together, Transforming Care really is aligned with the goal of Congress: to bring together nurses from all different backgrounds and to grow and learn together to improve patient care.

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