Volume 1, Issue 1

Message From ONS Chief Executive Officer

paula riegerPaula Rieger, RN, MSN, AOCN®, FAAN
Pittsburgh, PA

Welcome to the inaugural issue of ONS Leadership Update. Even though ONS Leadership Update is new, it builds on the history of previous ONS publications. Based on a combination of the ChapterVision and SIGnal, ONS Leadership Update is now the leadership newsletter of ONS. The audience of this newsletter includes all ONS leaders to create a forum for open communication and updates.

Many volunteer leaders are required to keep ONS successful. An important part of leadership development is to periodically take a step back to look at the lessons learned from experiences in such roles. ONS Leadership Update is the perfect place to share project updates, successes, and leadership lessons learned from your own experiences. I credit many of my ONS leadership experiences as critical to building my leadership skills.

Leadership within ONS can take many forms. ONS volunteer leaders

  • Bring information to nurses at the local level.
  • Create programming that is specific to subspecialty interest areas.
  • Develop publications and serve as authors.
  • Develop and promote new programs, products, and services.
  • Run national elections.
  • Lead the organization while keeping the core values, vision, and mission in mind.

Having so many different groups come together to lead the transformation of cancer care is very important to ONS. This assures us a diversity of opinion as we create the future of cancer care and our profession. The 2008 ONS Mentorship/Leadership weekend should prove to be a great example of the amazing nurses who make up the volunteer leadership of ONS. I look forward to seeing you at the ONS 2008 Mentorship/Leadership weekend, July 24–27, in Pittsburgh, PA.


Volume 1, Issue 1

brenda nevidjonMessage From ONS Board President

Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN
Durham, NC
ONS Board President

Welcome to ONS Leadership Update, the consolidation of the SIGnal and ChapterVision newsletters. Chapter presidents and SIG coordinators are being joined by members of the Nominating Committee, Steering Council, ONS Board, and editors in receiving this newsletter.

As leaders in ONS, we all know the importance of being informed about topics critical to ONS organizationally and to the profession of oncology nursing. To paraphrase a saying, we live in interesting healthcare times and keeping you informed is a priority. 

Although chapters and SIGs unite members in different ways and for different purposes, the leaders of these groups actually share many of the same challenges and knowing their members’ needs and planning strategies to meet those needs tops the list. Chapter presidents have the advantage of members being in proximity, but finding the perfect time, place, and topic to attract attendance can be easier said than accomplished. SIGs provide a forum for a specific subspecialty or interest, but members are not only geographically dispersed but also are diverse in their practice and expertise. 

Like chapters and SIGs, the other groups receiving this newsletter also face the challenges of geography, diversity of audience, and competing demands on everyone’s time and energy. You may feel that we are bombarded daily with more information than we have time to consider (I certainly do), but I think that you will find ONS Leadership Update practical, timely, and relevant to our needs. I encourage you to provide feedback to help make it so.

Thank you for sharing your time and talents by leading key groups within ONS. You make ONS and oncology nursing strong.

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Volume 1, Issue 1

brenda nevidjonONS Nominating Committee: Developing the Leaders of Tomorrow, Today

Rose Ermete, RN, BSN, OCN®, CCRP
Livonia, MI
ONS Nominating Committee Chair

The ONS Nominating Committee (NC) is charged with developing a slate of qualified candidates to run for national offices within ONS including president-elect, treasurer, secretary, Board of Directors members, and NC members. We also oversee the entire election process of the Board, NC, and SIGs. This includes evaluating trends in voting and factors influencing voter turnout. Our committee discusses findings with the Board and develops mechanisms to increase voting.

In our last survey of non-voters in 2008, a lack of knowledge about the candidates remained the number-one reason for not voting. Our committee continues to work on providing user-friendly mechanisms for members to learn more about the candidates. Any suggestions are always welcome. The vitality and success of ONS depends not only upon the leaders but also upon the membership who elects them. We may provide the slate, but the membership chooses the leaders and hence the future direction of ONS.

Although the election is a major focus of the committee, we continually encourage involvement and leadership development at every level in ONS. Many opportunities exist to get involved and give back to ONS. Each member of ONS has something special to offer. Nurses tend to be natural leaders, but many need encouragement and a little push. The NC has provided educational opportunities at various meetings to help members assess their leadership abilities and develop a path towards leadership. In talking with members, time tends to be a major deterrent to getting involved, but opportunities for involvement exist within each person’s time constraints. The NC networks with the membership and suggests opportunities that match their interests and time.

NC members attend many ONS functions, such as Congress, Institutes of Learning, or Mentorship/Leadership weekend. We are constantly on the lookout for members who show an interest in professional development, have a passion for oncology nursing, and exemplify the six core values of ONS. The NC has a strong commitment to providing a constant pool of future leaders. The NC members are available to talk at local or regional meetings. Anyone may contact a NC member and ask them to speak to a chapter or SIG regarding leadership opportunities. Through networking, education, and mentorship, we can develop future leaders and ensure the future success of oncology nursing.

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Volume 1, Issue 1

ONS SIG Council

Seth Eisenberg, RN, ADN, OCN®
Federal Way, WA
Chemotherapy SIG Coordinator, Ex-Officio

I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself as the new SIG Council chairperson. If you are wondering what the SIG Council is, the following is a brief history and description of the council’s purpose and what it has accomplished so far.

In May 2006, representatives from 10 SIGs volunteered to be part of a SIG task force. The task force was charged with identifying ways to better integrate the SIGs into the work of ONS. During this meeting, the group identified barriers, discussed issues, and brainstormed solutions. The initial meeting was followed by conference calls, and recommendations eventually were submitted to the ONS Board of Directors.

Among the recommendations was the creation of a SIG Council, comprised of the current coordinator from each SIG and representatives from ONS—Membership and Leadership Director Angie Stengel, MS, CAE; Manager of Member Services Diane Scheuring, MBA, CAE, CMP; and, for 2006, Peg Esper, MSN, APRN-BC, AOCN®, as the Board Liaison. A council chair also would be elected.

Five work groups were formed to address the issues identified by the council. These issues were as follows.

  • Improving awareness and presence of SIGs at national meetings
  • Improving communication to and from the ONS Board
  • Improving inter-SIG communication
  • Improving the SIG Virtual Communities
  • Identifying experts

The first council meeting was April 2007, and Wendy Vogel, MSN, FNP, AOCNP®, was elected the first council chair. Issues were refined further, and work groups were formalized. Conference calls for each work group (in addition to the council at large) were conducted during the following year. Accomplishments included the following.

  • Improved notation in Congress syllabus for SIG-sponsored educational events
  • Provided optional meeting space for SIGs at the Institutes of Learning, Advanced Practice Nursing Conference, and biannual Conference on Cancer Nursing Research
  • Established council meetings at Congress
  • Created a council virtual community
  • Submitted SIG-sponsored articles to ONS Connect

The council held its second meeting prior to Congress in Philadelphia, PA, this year. The work group chairs reported on their progress. Improvements were suggested for increasing the awareness and presence of SIGs at national meetings; enhancing communication among the SIGs; improving the SIG virtual communities; and establishing a database for expert speakers as resources for all SIG members. According to current Board liaison Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN, the Board also is considering speaker training programs for ONS conferences as a way to mentor new speakers.

All of these activities are focused on improving the SIGs. If you are currently not a member, click here to peruse the 27 different SIGs. Membership in one SIG is automatically included free of charge with your ONS Membership.

If you have a question about SIGs in general, feel free to contact me or anyone at ONS.
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Volume 1, Issue 1

A Tale of Chapter Triumph!

Martha Langhorne, MSN, RN, FNP, AOCN®
Binghamton, NY
ONS NY Southern Tier Chapter
Program Chair and Treasurer

The NY Southern Tier Chapter of ONS is a group of professional RNs who care for patients with cancer and have a keen interest in oncology. The official geography of our chapter encompasses four counties in the southern tier region of NY; however, some of our members travel to our meetings from distances far beyond those boundaries.

Our chapter initially began with a core chapter charter group from two area hospital systems. Today, our current “regional” membership is drawn from 10 employers.

The chapter has experienced its share of growing pains and some conflict as the chapter board has strived to become more inclusive for the needs of this broader membership base. Some conflict areas have been addressed by asking members to volunteer for a “task force” on topics such as the chapter election process and, more recently, a task force on creating a chapter budget.

Being a fairly small chapter, finances always have been a concern for funding projects or chapter events. Up to this point, our main chapter fundraiser has been an annual silent auction held in November. Members work very hard to create gift baskets and obtain gift certificates, and some even appear with very unique items for auction such as old refurbished furniture, toys, or clean, reusable clothing items. The proceeds have allowed us to partially support three major items—the chapter’s winter weekend retreat, the 5K Run/Walk for Lung Cancer Awareness, and travel scholarships for members who have an interest in ONS Congress or the fall Institutes of Learning.

As pharmaceutical support monies became less available, funding these three activities became more difficult. In a way, this divided members into different camps in support of each separate cause. Because of this, our chapter experienced some real turmoil in the fall of 2006 and through the winter and spring of 2007.

We were fortunate to have a January visit that year from Angie Stengel, MS, CAE, ONS Director of Membership, for a “chapter town hall meeting.” Although the meeting may not have eliminated all of our problems, the elected chapter board felt tremendous support from ONS in sending Angie to help us. I believe the meeting also revealed to Angie and others in attendance how difficult it had become to negotiate for finances in support of these projects. Angie had a nonthreatening presence and a wealth of experience in working with chapters in distress. These two factors were evident in her gracious attempts to help unite our chapter at this meeting.

The five main messages I left that meeting with were as follows.

  1. Begin a chapter budget process (which we have).
  2. Consider a second regular chapter fundraiser.
  3. Take advantage of ONS opportunities for programs and grant funding.
  4. Groom new leadership (and we make a concerted effort to send a member to Mentorship weekend each year).
  5. Make the chapter more fun! (Continue with the winter weekend retreat!)

Two major changes have since taken place. The first is that the group of members who were instrumental in the 5K Walk/Run for Lung Cancer Awareness decided to take the event outside of our chapter. Although initially it seemed sad that the event was no longer solely a chapter event, the 5K Run/Walk leadership group left the door open for interested chapter members to participate. In addition, strife no longer exists for the chapter board, and particularly for me as the current chapter treasurer, to financially support this event.

Second, our chapter applied for grant money that was offered on the ONS Web site by the ONS Foundation and the National Philanthropic Trust for chapters to increase community awareness regarding breast cancer. We were truly grateful for having this grant money awarded!

We again asked for volunteers from our chapter membership to develop ways for the chapter to increase community awareness regarding breast cancer. As project chair, I was delighted when chapter members volunteered from the four major hospitals and an academic center within our chapter as well as from the farthest regions of our “unofficial boundaries.” A total of 10 members held four committee meetings. That we could raise such a response in light of our then recent turmoil was heart warming, and I believe in part fostered by Angie’s visit and her encouragement that our chapter could survive and even thrive. This was truly a collaborative chapter effort.

We decided to have billboards placed in the three geographic regions with photographs of volunteer patients with breast cancer for whom we have cared. The billboards emphasized how these women have “lived” after their breast cancer diagnosis because they had a mammogram. They were up for the month of October 2007, which was “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

In addition, committee members garnered support from a total of 10 restaurants across the region to use placemats during October 2007 that  we designed, had printed, and delivered. The placemats included breast cancer facts, risk factors, signs and symptoms, and guidelines for diagnostic testing. Two of the 10 restaurants requested extra placemats!

Two committee members also worked with a local radio station to create “minute bullet ads” reminding women of “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and the benefit of getting a mammogram. These ads ran four times daily for 10 days on three area radio stations.

The collaboration seemed to have a healing effect on the chapter, and the results were astonishing! Not only did neighbors, patients, friends, and colleagues applaud our efforts, but our chapter also received an award for community service from the NY Nurses Association District 5 at the Nurses Day Breakfast in Binghamton, NY, on May 8th, 2008. The plaque that was created in honor of this award currently is being passed among the committee members for display at each of their practice sites for a two-month period.

I would like to close by emphasizing that, in my opinion, ONS is not simply a “glass house” in Pittsburgh, PA, where one sends their dues once a year. My experience with the administrative leadership at the national level always has been honest, supportive, and sincere, even if the answer I got was not the one I anticipated. This professional nursing organization advocates for patients with cancer as well as for its members and chapters so that oncology nurses have opportunities for growth, learning, and ovation!

Thank you for your part in saving our chapter!
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Volume 1, Issue 1

ONS Chapters Share Community Outreach Projects

We asked our chapters to share community outreach projects they participate in, and we received an overwhelming response that included many great ideas. The following list demonstrates the great work of the local chapters and proves that ONS’s plan to expand public awareness of oncology nursing’s contributions to quality cancer care is being met.

  • Community-oriented breast cancer educational program with topics such as hormone therapy, surgical and radiological interventions, emotional aspects of cancer, nutrition, and the relationship of weight and breast cancer reoccurrence
  • Participate in Relay for Life.
  • Participate in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society “Light the Night Walk.”
  • Plan a mitten, hat, and scarf campaign for needy children in the counties that represent the chapter membership.
  • Host a half-day educational event for oncology nurses.
  • Develop community liaisons with local associations.
  • Participate in a local Student Nurses Association job fair.
  • Engage in the ethnic community.
  • Sponsor a camp for children who have a parent, grandparent, or sibling who has been diagnosed with cancer.
  • Provide free annual cancer screening to the public.
  • Volunteer with various free clinics and support groups.
  • Join other healthcare and fitness organizations in a health expo. 
  • Partner with Sanofi-Aventis to sponsor a Super Colon event. The Super Colon is a teaching aid from the Prevent Cancer Foundation
  • Sponsor a community event to discuss skin cancer. Hand out bottled water, sun screen, and educational information.
  • Provide food, toiletries, money, etc., to various charities or local shelters every month. Ask members to bring non-perishables to every educational program to be distributed later to the charities.
  • Plan an annual two-mile swim to raise money for cancer awareness.
  • Sponsor a prevention of skin cancer and melanoma program at a local high school.
  • Sponsor a “National Cancer Survivors Day” celebration.
  • Provide a day-long review of current oncology practice from several different oncology specialties.
  • Create a fund that would give local patients with cancer in need immediate access to money for gas cards, prescriptions, electric bills, and minor funeral expenses.
  • Sponsor a yearly exhibit fair, and invite student nurses.
  • Donate medical equipment (e.g., stethoscopes, penlights, blood pressure cuffs) to local area schools.
  • At Halloween, make treats for patients and families at a local inpatient hospice house.
  • Make dinner for families staying at a local American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, Gift of Life Transplant House, or the Ronald McDonald House.
  • Adopt a local family in need for Christmas. At every meeting, ask members to bring a monetary donation. At the end of the year, present the donations to the family.
  • Volunteer at a local skin cancer screening clinic with local dermatologists.
  • Provide services and access to the underserved and the underinsured.
  • Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, an organization that helps build homes.
  • Volunteer at a local soup kitchen to deliver meals to patients with HIV/AIDS and cancer.
  • Partner with the American Cancer Society to participate in community events and educational programs.
  • Support organizations that send patients with cancer and their families on expense-paid vacations such as the Make a Wish Foundation.
  • Participate in Tar Wars, a tobacco-free education program for fourth and fifth graders. The goal is to increase the children’s knowledge of the short-term effects and immediate consequences of tobacco use. Sponsor a poster contest giving students an opportunity to advertise and market the benefits of being “smoke-free.”
  • Visit local schools to provide lung cancer education by purchasing real pig lungs and allowing the children to view both the healthy and black. Individualize the presentation by having the children list 10 reasons to stay tobacco free. Then, place the lists on t-shirts for the students along with the date of the presentation.
  • Participate in the Nursing 2000 “Nurses Celebration Saturday.” Nursing 2000 is an educational organization that promotes and supports RN careers. This annual event targets preschool, elementary, and middle school students and provides them with interactive educational opportunities to learn about the profession of nursing.
  • Provide a monetary scholarship to a high school senior who will attend an accredited nursing program in the fall after graduation.
  • Offer a one-day educational and healing retreat for breast cancer survivors.
  • Provide backpacks for children staying in local safe houses in preparation for the start of school.
  • Sponsor a fashion show in which cancer survivors participate as models.
  • Plan community activities for a “Skin Cancer Awareness Day.”
  • Sponsor a community cancer survivorship event comprised of cancer survivors, hospitals, cancer centers, medical researchers, and support service organizations. Provide free information on cancer treatment, prevention, and available support services to patients and their families.
  • Speak at community and small group events.
  • Work with the state to create a comprehensive cancer coalition plan to address the needs of patients with cancer and their families.
  • Participate at the local state fair to provide cancer awareness education.
  • Participate in the Lymphoma Research Foundation educational symposiums.
  • Participate in a community gynecology malignancy workshop.
  • Participate in the Lance Armstrong LIVESTRONG day celebration.
  • Participate in community outreach programs encouraging breast cancer awareness and early prevention and screening among African Americans.
  • Provide an “Ask the Nurse” event with a symptom-management program that provides opportunities for questions and discussion for the local community.
  • Develop an outreach committee with the sole purpose of helping people affected by cancer personally or professionally.
  • Sponsor a benefit concert in which cancer survivors, oncology nurses, and oncologists work with local songwriters to put their personal cancer experiences into lyrics. The songs could then be performed for the public.

Click here to see photos submitted by contributing chapters.

Thank you to the chapter presidents who contributed their community outreach activities to this article.

San Antonio Chapter
Barbara Owens, President

Northern Fox Valley Chapter
Laura Beamer, President

Columbus Chapter
Ilene Comeras, President

South Jersey Chapter
Renee Zalinsky, President

New York State Southern Tier Chapter
Kathleen Peranski, President

Coastal Bend Texas Chapter
Karen LaNasa, President

Florida Gulfside Chapter
Leah Atwell, President

Oncology Nurses of Southern Idaho
Linda Penwarden, President

Northern Maine Chapter
Pat Manning, President

Georgia Northwest Crescent Chapter
Patti Oakes, President

Imperial Polk Chapter
Robin Stewart, President

Upper Eastern Shore Chapter
Trish Focht, President

Texas Llano Estacado Chapter
Teddie Phillps, President

Greater Charlotte Chapter
Kristie Chapman, President

Kansas City Chapter
Erin Shonkwiler, President

Southeast Minnesota
Barbara A. Schafer, President

Capital District Chapter
Sabrina Mosseau, President

Kansas Capitol Area Chapter
Vicky L. McGrath

Central Texas Chapter
Nancy L. Lehde

Philadelphia Area Chapter
Carolyn Grande, President

Metro Detroit Chapter
Angela Maynard, President

Central Indiana Chapter
Linda Battiato, President

Cincinnati Tri State Chapter
Barb Henry, President

Central Connecticut
Sharon Thomas, President

Northern Virginia Chapter
Mary Jo Ward, President

Central Florida Chapter
Teal S. Stocker, President

Southeast Georgia Chapter
Beverly A. Youmans, President

Little Rock Chapter
Jackie Nelson, President

Potomac Area Chapter
Paula Muehlbauer, President

San Diego Chapter
Eleanor Flores, Vice President

Northeastern Oklahoma Chapter
Teri L. Jennings

Phoenix Chapter
Patrice Welsh-Benjamin, President

Cleveland Chapter
Shirley Mobley

Southern Jersey Shore Chapter
Laura E. Freire, President

Middle Tennessee Chapter
Jennifer Mitchell, President

California Central Valley Chapter
Candise Marie LaTulippe, President

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Volume 1, Issue 1

rose mary carroll-johnsonOncology Nursing Forum Update

Rose Mary Carroll-Johnson, MN, RN
Valencia, CA
Oncology Nursing Forum Editor

It doesn’t seem possible that the year is half gone. The Oncology Nursing Forum staff has been very busy this year. We are on a course to receive more than 200 submissions in 2008—more than I have ever seen in my tenure. Approximately 40% of these submissions have come from countries outside the United States. We clearly have established ourselves worldwide. Of course, with the increase in manuscripts comes more work. Our review board has grown, and our associate editors continue to do a fantastic job. None of this would be possible without the support of the world’s best staff.

The second half of the year will bring more of the same as well as a supplement with the November issue, the “2008 ONS Research Priorities report,” and abstracts from the Advanced Practice Nursing Conference in November. We also are going to expand the number of online exclusive articles and, of course, continue providing a podcast conversation with an author selected from each issue. If you haven’t listened to our podcasts, make it a point to do so. I think you will enjoy this value-added feature. Finally, by year’s end, we will have our reviewer orientation converted to a webcast and will post a toolkit to start a journal club on the Web site.

Lastly, editors and selected staff members will sit down to do some long-range planning. I think I have participated in three of these sessions in my time as editor. Each time, the planning has been exciting and some wonderful achievements have come to fruition as a result of our brainstorming and work.

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

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