Volume 6, Issue 1

Pave Your Own Leadership Path With the New ONS Leadership Competencies

Paula Rieger, RN, MSN, CAE, FAAN

As ONS works to support its members in leading the transformation of cancer care, it’s vital that we continually assess the nursing landscape and address the need for nursing leadership education and development.

ONS President Mary Gullatte, PhD, RN, ANP, BC, AOCN®, FAAN, has stressed the importance of “leading from the future” and understanding how today’s changes will affect future nursing roles. For example, chemotherapy has traditionally been administered intravenously, but today, more and more drugs are taken orally. Although the delivery method may be changing, the need for nurses to educate and advocate for patients and families will not lessen. Through leadership, we will transform nurses’ roles and ensure that systems of care integrate the vital services that we provide. Understanding that nurses are also leaders outside of their professional lives, ONS has created a tool to help you develop your own leadership pathway—both personally and professionally.

Throughout 2012, a project team of ONS members conducted an extensive review of healthcare and business literature to gather the evidence-based information needed to develop the ONS Leadership Competencies, which de­fine the role of the nurse leader and provide a means for self-assessment and a foundation for future leadership education. The final publication was distributed at the ONS Connections: Advancing Care Through Science Conference in November and is available to you on the Leadership Virtual Community.

Unfortunately, many people view leadership as tied to traditional management positions or titles (e.g., head nurse, supervisor); however, ONS believes that being a leader is more than that and supports the vision that every nurse is a leader. The Society strives to promote this belief throughout the healthcare community.

The Leadership Competencies have been divided into five domains.

  • Personal mastery
  • Vision
  • Knowledge
  • Interpersonal effectiveness
  • Systems thinking

The domains, which are often overlapping and intertwined, are written for three levels of practice—individual, group, and governance. Each builds upon the proficiency met at the individual level, which is the foundation for leading groups or serving in governance roles.

The Leadership Competencies can be applied to your leadership development pathway and professional use in several ways. Initially, they may be used for self-assessment. Nurses can assess their practice at each level of a competency to prioritize their educational needs according to their current role. In 2013, ONS hopes to offer members the ability to self-assess their leadership skills and then provide education to help fill in gaps in knowledge.

For those looking to fill a leadership position—whether in employment or volunteer work—essential competencies can be discussed in the application and interview process. When participating in performance reviews, appropriate competencies can be incorporated into the annual evaluation process. The Leadership Competencies will also be useful for the Nominating Committee, as it works to ensure that the Society has a pipeline of volunteers to fill future leadership roles. The potential for future research related to the role of nurse leaders and their collaboration with the interdisciplinary team exists as well.

The Leadership Competencies are dynamic and intended to be used in a variety of ways and settings. We look forward to hearing how you use them for yourself and your own personal assessment and leadership development plan as well as within your institution as a tool for role assessment or staff training and development. Please share your ideas, questions, and feedback!


Volume 6, Issue 1

Progress Is Steady for Implementation of APRN Consensus Model

In 2008, the Advanced Practice RN (APRN) Consensus Work Group and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) APRN Advisory Committee launched the groundbreaking APRN Consensus Model, which seeks to introduce standard regulatory requirements for APRNs across states, specifically focusing on

  • The APRN legal scope of practice
  • Recognized roles and titles of APRNs
  • Criteria for entry into advanced practice, including graduate education and certification in a broad population focus

NCSBN explained that as long as regulatory requirements differ from state to state, each state border represents an obstacle to portability—potentially preventing access to professionals and access to care. The consensus model, once fully implemented, will remove these barriers by unifying regulatory requirements in licensure, accreditation, certification, and education across states.
ONS, the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC), and 46 other nursing organizations endorsed the model when it first launched. The model has set a goal for implementation across the United States by 2015. Five states have currently fully implemented the model, with 10 more nearing completion. Others are in various stages of implementation. To find out where your state stands, visit NCSBN’s maps page.

The model promotes specialization for APRNs in areas such as oncology; however, it does not include specialty education or certification as part of the regulatory process. In states where the model is implemented, new APRNs must have completed broad graduate education in one of six population-based foci (adult/gerontology [primary or acute care], women’s health, pediatrics, neonatal, family, or psychiatric/mental health) and must pass a certification examination in the same area as their education. APRNs may also specialize, but state boards will not recognize the specialty education or certification for regulatory (licensure) purposes. Much like OCN® certification, advanced oncology certification will be recognized in the workplace but not required by regulatory bodies.

In preparation for the model, graduate programs that previously focused only on oncology are expanding to include the population-based competencies in areas such as primary or acute adult/gerontology. Many still include oncology electives and additional clinical hours in oncology. Graduates will take the respective population-focused certification (e.g., primary or acute adult/gerontology) required by the state board but will also be eligible for oncology certification. Oncology APRNs who are already licensed by the state board will not have to attain additional education or certification; they will be “grandfathered” to continue practicing as long as they maintain their certification. Issues have arisen, however, for nurses who relocate to another state.

A group of nursing organizations, including ONCC and NCSBN, is working to try to facilitate grandfathering across states. As information becomes available, it will be shared with ONS members and oncology certified nurses.

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Volume 6, Issue 1

Members Become Leaders Through ONS Involvement

The 2012–2016 ONS Strategic Plan has four pillars: Knowledge, Leadership, Quality, and Technology.

The goal of the Leadership Pillar states: “Through ONS involvement, members become leaders and effective cancer care advocates in their workplace, community, and the Society.”

ONS is committed to providing programming and services that give healthcare providers the skills and expertise they need to become strong leaders in their institutions and communities as well as within ONS.

In past years, ONS’s Leadership Development Institute (LDI) served oncology nurses who had aspirations to become a leader or were already in a leadership role and wanted to advance their skills. The LDI prepared oncology nurses from multiple practice settings to lead the transformation of cancer care at local, state, national, and international levels. 

In 2011, ONS hosted a Leadership Think Tank consisting of a diverse array of nursing and association professionals to address the landscape of nursing leadership in the 21st century.  The think tank generated discussion on the needs of nursing leadership education and development,  the differing needs and interests among the various generations of nurses in the workforce today, and a vision about how leadership education and training might advance the profession into the future.  With increased knowledge of the nursing landscape and specific needs of the broader nursing community regarding leadership training, ONS was able to use the ideas that were generated in this think tank to plan future programs for its members and the broader nursing community.

From this think tank emerged several initiatives supported by both the ONS Foundation and ONS.  A team was assembled to develop the Oncology Nursing Society Leadership Competencies (please see the CEO’s Message in this issue), released in November 2012. These competencies are described in five domains and at the individual, group, and governance levels.  You can obtain a copy from the ONS Leadership Virtual Community.

The exciting new ONS Leadership Development online course is an intensive nine-week course designed to provide both theoretical information and practical guidance to nurses interested in expanding their knowledge and skills related to leadership.  Encompassing a diversity of ages, experience levels, learning styles, and interests, the course offers tools necessary to build upon the competencies of a leader.

Students in this online course work with a mentor, network through discussions with fellow participants and faculty, complete comprehensive self-assessments, and learn through multiple formats including audio, video, and interactive activities.  Course participants apply principles and theories of leadership directly into their nursing practice, working on topics including communication, teamwork, change theory, professional issues, and much more, stimulating thought, creativity, and sharing. For more information, visit the ONS website.

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ONS Leadership Update is an e-newsletter published by the
Oncology Nursing Society