Volume 20, Issue 2, July 2009
Coordinator's Message

Barbara Biedrzycki, RN, MSN, CRNP, AOCNP®
Baltimore, MD

A unique opportunity is available for one Nurse Practitioner (NP) SIG member. Because of Christa Braun-Inglis literally having her hands full (with her beautiful baby), she will not be our next NP SIG coordinator as planned. This means that we now have exciting opportunities for NP SIG members to declare their candidacies. The next coordinator will not need to wait a full year to assume leadership and will skip the traditional year as the coordinator-elect. The elected coordinator will begin the two-year leadership role at the close of Congress 2010. Applications are being accepted now through noon (EST) on August 24, 2009.

The ONS Nominating Committee and I can provide additional information about the benefits of leadership and will be happy to do so.

Marilyn Haas, PhD, RN, CNS, and I appreciated your participation in the “Discriminatory Language” survey. We also appreciated the expert advice and professional support from Gail Mallory, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, ONS Director of Research, and the technical support of Jenny Shinsky, BS, ONS Membership specialist. Our survey would not have happened without the enthusiastic efforts of these two professionals.

The “Discriminatory Language” survey is an example of an NP SIG project. Marilyn and I, along with other NPs both within our NP SIG and other NP regional, state, and national organizations are passionate about the topic. ONS believes that this topic is worthy of research and supported our efforts to develop, implement, and analyze the research. Although discriminatory language is not unique to oncology NPs, ONS has stepped forward once again in a leadership role.

If you have a topic or issue that you are passionate about, perhaps it can be our next NP SIG project. Chances are you are not alone in your passion. The NP SIG provides a great venue to make connections with others who believe in your passion too.

As an oncology NP, is your practice more similar to or unique from that of your colleagues? Practice may be affected by practice setting (private, community, academic, etc.), location (urban, rural, region), NP training (primary, acute, oncology), RN experiences, education (master’s or doctoral degree), age, values, or clients, in addition to institution and practice guidelines, standard operating procedures, collaborative or supervisory agreements, and state and national regulations. Discussion of ways in which we are united and diversified will be helpful conversations for our SIG.

Do the similarities or diversities within our practice matter? When we recognize the uniqueness among those who choose our profession, do we all acknowledge common skills and qualities of oncology NPs? Upon reading this, if you are moved to explore the “meaning” of oncology NPs, contact me, and we will see where our thoughts take us.

Another way to share information about your oncology NP role is to submit your job description for posting on the Virtual Community (VC). Log onto the NP SIG VC for more details, or contact the ONS NP job description Coordinator Diane Cope, RN, PhD, ARNP-BC, AOCNP®.

The Nurse Practitioner SIG Newsletter is produced by members of the
Nurse Practitioner SIG and ONS staff and is not a peer-reviewed publication.

Special Interest Group Newsletter  July 2009

Editor's Message
A Salute and a Challenge

Megan Wholey, RNC, ANP-BC, AOCNP®
Arlington VA

Inside this newsletter are a variety of articles reflecting the broad range of activities with which ONS nurse practitioners (NPs) are involved. As those who attended our recent Congress in San Antonio, TX, are aware, this is an exciting time to be practicing in oncology. More complicated regimens and exciting new frontiers have increased the value and even the necessity of advanced nursing practice involvement and improvement in client care and outcomes.

Our SIG seeks to help in these endeavors, and that means that all who have even small amounts of time to spend are encouraged to become more familiar with how ONS and our SIG network can improve and support your efforts. To be very specific, our SIG is in need of a new coordinator beginning in spring 2010, with the election to be held in January. You are encouraged to consider serving in this capacity for a two-year term, with help provided by our current SIG leadership and other past coordinators. If you’re an NP relatively new to oncology, please consider being matched with an experienced mentor for the questions that will arise during your practice. Currently, ONS has more volunteer mentors than mentees, so help is not just on the way, it’s currently available! Check out the program or sign up!

We’re also interested in topic suggestions for articles, descriptions of challenges encountered in daily practice, and how you’ve handled tricky situations—whatever you’d like to talk about. Please contact me with your ideas, and thank you for reading your SIG newsletter.

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  July 2009

Advocacy Corner

Wendy H. Vogel, MSN, FNP, AOCNP®
Bristol, TN

ONS, in conjunction with the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding the physician supervision “clarification” contained in the 2009 final Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System rule. This letter was sent following a meeting comprising Carol Bazell, director of the Outpatient Care Division of CMS, ACCC representatives Matt Farber and Leslie Greenburg, and our ONS Health Policy Manager, Rene Quashie. Review the letter.

Please also take a minute and send an e-mail or note to thank Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN, president of ONS and Paula Rieger, RN, MSN, AOCN®, FAAN, the Chief Executive Officer of ONS, for responding to our advanced practice needs.

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  July 2009

Bridging the Gap
A Better Understanding of the Knowledge Gap as Nurse Practitioners Enter Cancer Care

Margaret Rosenzweig, FNP-BC, AOCNP®
Pittsburgh, PA

Growing evidence shows that the nation is facing a shortage of cancer care providers to supply high-quality cancer care. Nurse practitioners (NPs) in oncology are being sought to fill these essential roles. A gap exists between necessary NP knowledge and skills for the cancer care setting and the actual academic preparation of NPs entering oncology. Only five oncology-specific NP programs can be found throughout the United States. Currently, most NP education is population-focused and not disease specific. Other NP programs offer acute care, family, geriatrics, and women’s health as possible specialties. Although many of these non-oncology specific programs offer oncology content through electives and practicum experiences, knowledge and practice gaps exist for NPs who have not benefited from a strong oncology curriculum or clinical experiences prior to joining an oncology practice. This lack of knowledge can result in poor patient outcomes.

To address this issue of declining knowledge of oncology among NPs caring for patients with cancer, a project team, led by Margaret (Peg) Rosenzweig, FNP-BC, AOCNP®, University of Pittsburgh, has been developed with the intent to bridge the knowledge gap that exists when a NP enters the oncology workforce. Additional members of the project team include the following.

Joan Giblin, MSN, APRN-BC, AOCN® Atlanta, GA
Marcia Mickle, RN, ACNP, AOCN® Chicago, IL
Allison Morse, ANP-BC, WHNP, OCN® Boston, MA
Peg Rosenzweig, PhD, APN-BC, AOCNP® Pittsburgh, PA
Patricia, Sheehy, APRN-BC, OCN® Stoneham, MA
Valerie Sommer, RN, MSN, FNP-C, AOCNP® Kansas City, MO

By the time this issue is published, this project team of experienced oncology NPs will have met for a working weekend meeting on May 15–17, 2009, in Pittsburgh, PA. The group intends to gather information and summarize the educational and practical needs of NPs caring for adults with cancer, revise the ONS “Oncology Nurse Practitioner Competencies,” identify an assessment tool to survey the NP SIG, specifically identify the educational needs of NPs as they enter cancer care, and develop resources and programming based on those assessed needs. Additionally, the group intends to initiate discussions with nursing schools to identify opportunities for ONS to support graduate level oncology curricula and to collaborate with NP organizations to better prepare nurse practitioners caring for patients with cancer.

Please watch for further updates via this newsletter. Questions or comments can be forwarded to Peg Rosenzweig at mros@pitt.edu.

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  July 2009

Nurse Practitioner SIG Job Description

Diane Cope, PhD, ARNP, BC, AOCNP®
Fort Myers, FL

The job description for oncology nurse practitioners (NPs) was developed by the ONS NP SIG in 1996. It is a compilation of many oncology NP job descriptions and is intended to be used only as a template for developing a personal job description (not in its entirety). This job description was reviewed and updated in 2004. Currently, two oncology NP job descriptions exist on the ONS NP SIG Virtual Community (VC). One of the job descriptions was developed by Jones et al. (2002) and is posted on the VC.

The NP SIG now would like to post other oncology NP descriptions on the VC for additional NP resources. If you would like to post your institutionally or personally developed job description, please contact me. You will be asked to complete a release form before the job description can be posted on the VC. The oncology NP job descriptions will be listed by state. Please consider submitting your job description for posting on the NP SIG VC as a valuable resource for other NPs.


Jones, A., Ironside, V., Jameson, G., Leslie, M., & Sullivan, C. (2002). A job description for the oncology NP. Nurse Practitioner, 27(2), 61.

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  July 2009

A Nurse Practitioner Goes to Washington

Deborah Kirk Walker, DNP, FNP-BC, AOCN®
ONS Steering Committee Member
Birmingham, AL

As part of my leadership role with ONS, I was able to attend a Leadership Fellowship sponsored by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) in Washington, DC. Representatives [mostly nurse practitioners (NPs)] from various organizations were invited to a two-and-a-half-day overview of political issues that impact NPs. As part of the meeting, we were required to meet with our state senators and local representatives to discuss various issues.

I arrived on Sunday afternoon, set my bags down, and joined the other participants for a “crash course” on the political issues facing NPs on a national level. As a political novice, this was quite an eye opening experience. I found our presence in Washington, DC, was very timely, as healthcare reform was on everyone’s agenda, and deadlines were fast approaching.

Monday morning we met with individuals from various offices including Kelly Hall, Health Legislative Assistant (HLA), from the office of Representative Allyson Schwartz (D-PA). Representative Schwartz is looking for co-sponsors for the bill for NPs to be able to order home health care. We also met with Nicole Tapay, Senior HLA from Senator Ron Wyden’s office (D-OR), who discussed issues surrounding healthcare reform. Other speakers that morning touched on the topics we would be discussing during our “Hill Meetings.”
On Monday afternoon we hit the streets and met with as many political figures as we could, especially those on the various lead committees (such as Ways and Means and Appropriations). I met with the health liaisons from the two Alabama senators’ offices and with the House Representative from Huntsville (an oncologist). Some of the issues we discussed were as follows.

  • Appropriations for NP educational programs and traineeships—These programs and traineeships are needed to meet the shortage of primary care providers throughout the United States. The U.S. Congress and Administration have articulated the need for primary care providers to serve vulnerable populations, increase the public health infrastructure, and serve as first responders in the presence of national disasters. NPs are primary care providers who can meet all of these national needs.
  • NPs as medical home/coordinated primary care providers—Congress needs to include NPs in legislation authorizing demonstration programs, reimbursement authorization, and incentives for participation in medical homes or coordinated primary care practices, rather than limiting these privileges to the MD or DO.
  • Legislation or reinterpretation of statute that will authorize home health agencies to accept orders from NPs.
  • Healthcare reform—Important for NPs to be recognized and included in ALL the reform processes and the plans that are developed.

(AANP, 2009, information packet provided for program participants).

Monday evening, the participants of the Fellowship reconvened and discussed all that took place during the various meetings. As a group, we covered a lot of ground in Washington that day. We met with key figures who could really help make a difference for NPs.

Tuesday morning, before we headed back to our respective states, we met with more key individuals in Washington for further discussion of the political issues. These included Caya Lewis, HLA for Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy (D-MA), representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Director of the Division of Nursing, Michele Richardson, MS, BSN, RN. What an impressive group!

This experience also allowed for some networking among colleagues. Despite our different specialties of practice, we all came together to support the same cause…Legislation for NPs!

If I took away one thing from this experience, it would be awareness. The experience opened my eyes to how the system works in Washington (although I probably did not even see the half of it) and taught me that we can make a difference with persistence. I hope to continue to increase my colleagues’ awareness of the legislative issues that face NPs as well as those impacting ONS.

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  July 2009

ONS 10th National Conference on Cancer Nursing Research 2009

Janet H. Van Cleave, PhD, ACNP-CS, AOCNP®
New York, NY

Approximately 200 oncology nurses met in Orlando, FL, on February 12–14, 2009, for the biannual ONS National Conference on Cancer Nursing Research. The purpose of this conference is to provide a forum for the presentation of important cancer nursing research conducted over the past two years. Special events of particular importance to nurse practitioners (NPs) were the 2009–2013 ONS Research Agenda Open Session, NP SIG members’ presentations, and the NP SIG meeting.

The ONS Research Agenda Open Session was just one of the many steps in a dynamic process toward finalizing the content areas and priority topics that will guide ONS’s research priorities and funding decisions over the next four years. Work for the 2009–2013 Research Agenda began in 2008 with the formation of the ONS Research Priorities Survey project team. Based upon previous research agendas dating back to 1980, the project team developed the Research Priorities Survey, which was completed by 713 recruited ONS members. Doorenbos and co-authors published the results in an online exclusive in the Oncology Nursing Forum (Doorenbos et al. 2008). These results then informed the development of specific content areas and priority topics , which were then presented to the members in the open session at the February conference and were as follows.

  • Cancer Symptoms and Side Effects
  • Individual and Family Psychosocial Research
  • Late Effects of Treatment and Survivorship
  • Nursing-Sensitive Patient Outcomes
  • Palliative Care/End of Life
  • Research in Health Promotions
  • Translational Research

The Research Agenda was then posted online until March 31, 2009, providing members an opportunity to critique and comment. The team then incorporated members’ critiques and is currently working with the ONS Board of Directors for final approval. This work could not have been completed without expert help from the ONS team, which was led by Linda Eaton, MN, RN, and Gail Mallory, PhD, RN, CNAA.

Traditionally, content experts for the ONS Research Agenda project team have included advanced practice nurses (APNs), which demonstrates the importance of a clinical research partnership. In addition, APNs bring their unique view of clinical practice and future vision of the profession to the Research Agenda project team. This is reflected by the results of the 2008 ONS Research Priorities Survey, which revealed that APNs with and without doctorates differed in their ranking of research topics. Master’s-prepared APNs ranked the five most important topics as the following.

  • Quality of Life
  • Pain
  • Late Effects of Treatment
  • Access to Care
  • Palliative Care

APNs with doctorates ranked the following as the five most important topics.

  • Late Effects of Treatment
  • Survivorship
  • Functional Impairment
  • Neuropathy
  • Caregiving

This year, Barb Biedrzycki, RN, MSN, CRNP, AOCNP®, NP SIG coordinator, and Janet Van Cleave, PhD, AOCNP®, NP SIG member, represented APNs on the Research Agenda project team at the ONS conference. NP contribution toward the advancement of rigorous scientific oncology research also was evident throughout the conference with presentations on varied subjects including palliative care, autologous transplant-related morbidity, genomics, health behaviors, ethnic and minority research, and functional status. And, for the first time at the ONS Research Conference, the NP SIG formally met to discuss special issues including the challenges of combining academic and practice careers and promoting evidence-based practice in the clinical setting.

In conclusion, the biannual ONS Research Conference was an important forum for oncology nursing research, which included presentations by NP SIG members. The 2009–2013 Research Agenda, which will guide ONS research and funding priorities over the next four years, was presented at the conference. After approval by the Board of Directors, it can be accessed on the ONS Web site. In addition, this Web site also has information about ONS funding, grants, and awards as well as evidence-based practice resources. The date and site of the next ONS Research Conference has yet to be announced, but it is not too early for us to start planning to have an even greater presence and contribution in oncology nursing research.


Doorenbos et al. (2008) 2008 ONS research priorities survey. Oncology Nursing Forum, 35, E100–E107.

Special Interest Group Newsletter  July 2009

Call for Letters to the Editor and/or Letters to the Coordinator

Has something in this newsletter raised your eyebrows or caused a smirk or a nod of approval? Share your thoughts with us. We can take it, really, and we really do want to receive it!

Letters expressing a critique of what we wrote or the management of the Nurse Practitioner (NP) SIG are helpful. Although the NP SIG has over 1,100 members, we hear from very few of you. How can we know if we are meeting your needs unless you tell us?

Please consider sending us a note telling us your thoughts on how we are doing, where we should be going, and what is important to you as an oncology NP. Is there something that you would like to read about in the newsletter or a project that needs to be done? We promise that writing to us will not obligate you to write the article or be the project coordinator. However, if you do volunteer, that would be fabulous! Send letters to the editor to Megan Wholey, RNC, ANP-BC, AOCNP®, at megan.wholey@verizon.net. Send letters to the coordinator to Barb Biedrzycki, RN, MSN, CRNP, AOCNP®, at NPBiedrzycki@aol.com.

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  July 2009

Seeking Facebook Coordinator

Do you enjoy Facebook? Are you intrigued about intermingling social and professional networking via the latest electronic communication means? Then, you may be just the person we are looking for because we are seeking a Facebook coordinator.

Responsibilities are flexible with perhaps the greatest challenge being explaining Facebook to those of us who are not users. ONS has provided some recommendations for Facebook groups. This will be a fun project that will stand out on your curriculum vitae.

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  July 2009

Certification Challenge

At Congress 2009, the Nurse Practitioner (NP) SIG made a new challenge to all SIGs. You may recall the last NP SIG challenge to increase ONStat participation was issued by former NP SIG Coordinator Wendy Vogel, RN, MSN, FNP, AOCNP®. The ONStat challenge was very popular and brought awareness to many who otherwise would not have been aware of how important their voice is in the legislative arena. Read more about ONStat.

The new SIG challenge for certification encourages SIG members to become oncology certified. An award will be given next year to both the SIG with the highest number of certified members and the SIG with the largest percentage of certified members. At a time when the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation presents a new certification option (the certified breast care nurse) and is developing new certification options, this challenge is destined to be very popular.

Here are the current statistics for each SIG.

Results as of April 15, 2009

Nurse Practitioner   54%
Acute and Critical Care   35%
Advanced Nursing Research   34%
Ambulatory/Office Nursing   67%
Blood and Marrow Stem Cell Transplant   51%
Breast Care   47%
Cancer Genetics   48%
Chemotherapy   48%
Clinical Nurse Specialist   64%
Clinical Trial Nurse   57%
Complementary and Integrative Therapies   45%
Ethics   46%
Home Care and Palliative Care   36%
Lymphedema Management   38%
Management and Program Development   56%
Neuro-Oncology   32%
Neutropenia   52%
Pain Management   43%
Pharmaceutical/Industry Nursing   41%
Prevention/Early Detection   35%
Radiation   60%
Spiritual Care   41%
Staff Education   52%
Surgical Oncology   40%
Survivorship, Quality of Life, and Rehabilitation   43%
Targeted and Biological Therapies   51%
Transcultural Nursing Issues   49%

As an oncology NP, you may choose to be certified as an advanced oncology certified nurse practitioner (AOCNP®) and/or one of the other options. Check out the AOCNP® certification application.

Resources to prepare for the AOCNP® examination include the Advanced Oncology Nursing Certification Review and Resource Manual edited by Barbara Holmes Gobel, RN, MS, AOCN®, Shirley Triest-Robertson, RN, PHD, AOCNS®, and Wendy H. Vogel (available at the ONS Store) and information on the NP SIG VC.

Did you know that the new AOCNP® pin is now available for $35 plus shipping and handling? If you would like to help develop strategies to bring the NP SIG to the top of the certification challenge, please contact Barb.

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  July 2009

Membership Information

SIG Membership Benefits

  • Network with colleagues in an identified subspecialty area around the country.
  • Contribute articles for your SIG’s newsletter.
  • Participate in discussions with other SIG members.
  • Contribute to the future path of the SIG.
  • Share your expertise.
  • Support and/or mentor a colleague.
  • Receive information about the latest advancements in treatments, clinical trials, etc.
  • Participate in ONS leadership by running for SIG coordinator-elect or join SIG work groups.
  • Acquire information with a click of a mouse at http://ons.org/membership including
    • Educational opportunities for your subspecialty
    • Education material on practice
    • Calls to action
    • News impacting or affecting your specific SIG
    • Newsletters
    • Communiqués
    • Meeting minutes.

Join a Virtual Community

A great way to stay connected to your SIG is to join its Virtual Community. It’s easy to do so. All you will need to do is

  • Log on to the ONS Web site (http://www.ons.org/).
  • Select "Membership" from the tabs above.
  • Then, click on "ONS Chapters and Special Interest Groups."
  • Scroll down to "Visit the ONS Special Interest Groups (SIG) Virtual Community" and click.
  • Now, select "Find a SIG."
  • Locate and click on the name of your SIG from the list of all ONS SIGs displayed.
  • Once the front page of your SIG’s Virtual Community appears on screen, select "New User" from the top left. (This allows you to create log-in credentials.)
  • Type the required information into the text fields as prompted.
  • Click "Join Group" (at the bottom right of the text fields) when done.

    Special Notices

    • If you already have log-in credentials generated from the ONS Web site, use this information instead of attempting to generate new information.
    • If you created log-in credentials for the ONS Web site and wish to have different log-in information, you will not be able to use the same e-mail address to generate your new credentials. Instead, use an alternate e-mail address.

Subscribe to Your SIG’s Virtual Community Discussion Forum
Once you have your log-in credentials, you are ready to subscribe to your SIG’s Virtual Community discussion forum. To do so,

  • Select "Log In," located next to "New User," and enter your information.
  • Next, click on the "Discussion" tab on the top right of the title bar.
  • Locate and select "Subscribe to Discussion"
  • Enter e-mail address.
  • Click "Finish."
  • You are now ready to begin participating in your SIG’s discussion forum.

Participate in Your SIG’s Virtual Community Discussion Forum

  • First, log in. (This allows others to identify you and enables you to receive notification [via e-mail] each time a response or new topic is posted.)
  • Click on "Discussion" from the top title bar.
  • Click on any posted topic to view contents and post responses.

Sign Up to Receive Your SIG’s Virtual Community Announcements
As an added feature, members also are able to register to receive their SIG’s announcements by e-mail.

  • From your SIG’s Virtual Community page, locate the "Sign Up Here to Receive Your SIG’s Announcements" section.
  • Select the "Click Here" feature, which will take you to a link to subscribe.
  • Once the "For Announcement Subscription Only" page appears select how you wish to receive your announcements.
    • As individual e-mails each time a new announcement is posted
    • One e-mail per day comprised of all new daily announcements posted
    • Opt-out, indicating that you will frequently browse your SIG’s Virtual Community page for new postings
  • Enter your e-mail address.
  • Click on "Next Page."
  • Click "Finish"
  • You are now subscribed to receive announcements.
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Special Interest Group Newsletter  July 2009

Nurse Practitioner SIG Officers

Coordinator (2007–2010)
Barbara Biedrzycki, RN, MSN, CRNP, AOCNP®
Baltimore, MD

Megan Wholey, RNC, ANP-BC, AOCNP®
Arlington, VA
Web Page Administrator
Jennifer Wulff, RN, MN, ARNP, AOCNP®
Lynwood, WA


Legislative Issues
Wendy H. Vogel, RN, MSN, FNP, AOCNP®
Bristol, TN

Barbara Biedrzycki, RN, MSN, CRNP, AOCNP®
Baltimore, MD

ONS Copy Editor
Emily Nalevanko, MFA
Pittsburgh, PA

Know someone who would like to receive a print copy of this newsletter?
To print a copy of this newsletter from your home or office computer, click here or on the printer icon located on the SIG Newsletter front page. Print copies of each online SIG newsletter also are available through the ONS National Office. To have a copy mailed to you or another SIG member, contact Membership/Leadership Specialist Carol DeMarco at cdemarco@ons.org or 866-257-4ONS, ext. 6230.

View past newsletters.

ONS Membership/Leadership Team Contact Information

Angie Stengel, MS, CAE, Director of Membership/Leadership

Diane Scheuring, MBA, CAE, CMP, Manager of Member Services

Carol DeMarco, Membership/Leadership Specialist

The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) does not assume responsibility for the opinions expressed and information provided by authors or by Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Acceptance of advertising or corporate support does not indicate or imply endorsement of the company or its products by ONS or the SIG. Web sites listed in the SIG newsletters are provided for information only. Hosts are responsible for their own content and availability.

Oncology Nursing Society
125 Enterprise Dr.
Pittsburgh, PA 15275-1214

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