Highlights from ONS 2019

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Published: 8 May 2019
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Dr Laura Fennimore - ONS President

ONS President Dr Laura Fennimore speaks to ecancer at ONS 2019 about the role of the Oncology Nurses Society and the importance of the annual meeting.

She highlights that some of the most influential sessions from the programme have been on the topic of innovation, something that oncology nurses consistently deliver in their profession.

Dr Fennimore outlines the background of the organisation and the objectives of the congress, as well as her hopes for the future as ONS President. 

The Oncology Nursing Society is a professional organisation of more than 35,000 oncology nurses. Our mission is to advance excellence in oncology nursing and quality cancer care. Our vision is really nothing less daunting than leading the transformation of cancer care and our values are important to us. Our values include things like innovation and excellence and advocacy. The Oncology Nursing Society has been around for a number of years.

Can you tell us about the background of the Oncology Nursing Society?

The Oncology Nursing Society got started really with some passionate nurses who in 1973 gathered together at a meeting of the National Cancer Institute to specifically talk about the opportunity to gather oncology nurses and to have an organisation that was specific to oncology nurses. So that was actually formed then in 1975 and we’ve been going ever since.

What are the main objectives of the meeting?

ONS Congress is an annual conference that provides opportunity for more than 4,000 nurses to gather, to learn, to network and to collaborate about issues that are important to us and the people that we serve. Our meeting here in Anaheim has more than 4,000 nurses today and we look forward to next year’s conference in San Antonio, Texas.

What were some sessions that you found particularly interesting?

Some of the most interesting sessions that I’ve attended thus far have really been about that topic of innovation. Our keynote speaker, with Dr Rachel Walker yesterday, was fascinating. We had an opportunity to hear from a young nurse researcher who was really interested in where nurses can bring their voice and their creativity to the table. She encouraged us to think about if we’re not invited to the meeting to bring our own chair and to be the voice of creativity that is addressing patient needs.

Some other sessions that I think are really fascinating are about how nurses grow in their leadership roles and how nurses can serve as entrepreneurs and change the face of healthcare today. We were excited to have those types of sessions available for oncology nurses to think about how they can grow in their profession.
At the ONS Congress there’s really something for everyone, whether you’re involved in direct patient care, in education or in research. There are sessions that are designed for each of those areas of clinical practice, research and leadership.

Has there been anything that has set this year apart for you?

This year is my first year as the ONS President, so of course it’s a year apart. I’ve been coming to Congress for many, many years and one of the things that sets this year apart is the attention to looking forward to the future and recognising that cancer care is changing dramatically with new therapies, with new challenges in our healthcare delivery systems and with challenges in dealing with patient populations that we may perhaps have not addressed in the past. There was a session yesterday that was dealing with how do we deal with the aggressive and violent patient. There was a session that specifically talked about how do we care best for people who identify as LGBTQ .

What are your hopes for the future of both the ONS and the meeting?

My hope for the Oncology Nursing Society is that we will be here for many years to come to support oncology nurses who are providing the best quality cancer care. This annual meeting is an important part of our association as it’s a place where nurses get to meet and to share their best ideas, their best practices and to learn from one another. It’s one thing to learn on social media and in the online environment and it’s another to be able to meet and talk and recognise that we are so much alike and that we have similar challenges and an opportunity to learn how to do this better for our patients.