Where Does Our Future Lie?
The Board wanted to know your thoughts on that question as they prepared for their January Board meeting, so we asked and you answered. The rising costs of cancer care and the need for evidence-based practice guidelines and standards topped the list of concerns that oncology nurses have about the future based on a survey that ONS conducted this January (see Figure 1). Advances in genetics technology and workforce issues were also noted as important concerns for the future. You emphatically said ONS’s role should be to help maintain nursing knowledge and ensure competency.
The survey was distributed via email to 29,712 ONS members as well as promoted through the ONS website, SIG and chapter virtual communities, and Twitter and Facebook links. The survey was only live for one week, and 64% of those taking it responded in the first day. We invited you to share the survey with non-ONS colleagues also. Of the 2,838 nurses completing the survey (9.6%), 99% were ONS members.
Nurses were asked to consider the most important issues facing the cancer care field, clinical practice, and ONS. Respondents could select from specific options or write in their own answers. Not surprisingly, healthcare reform, insurance, and access issues were frequently identified as important issues for the next few years, with respondents also indicating survivorship and aging populations as challenges for the profession to address. One respondent wrote, "Make sure those who do not have sufficient funds receive the same care as those that do," and another wrote, "As we speak to survivorship and the costs rise, we only wish that [those with cancer don't] die of a different disease - poverty."
Nurse and physician shortages and economic challenges facing individual practices and institutions were also top of mind. One survey respondent wrote about concerns that nursing shortages do not allow time for holistic care that oncology nurses value.
Addressing educational needs will continue to be a challenge as more nurses must bear their own costs of obtaining CNE. Respondents indicated that they would be most likely to participate in online/web-based CNE programs or attend local or regional live programs. Print CNE programs continue to be popular, while most respondents noted they have not yet adopted the use of newer technologies such as podcasts, e-books, and mobile devices to obtain education and information.
Nurses echoed many common concerns such as the inability to keep up with new information and the lack of time and money to participate in programs. Many respondents indicated that they pay for their own CNE and will continue to rely more on free programs that don't require travel. The variety of ways that ONS members can receive information was noted as a positive. When asked which method of receiving continuing education was most important, one respondent wrote that it was difficult to say because "one of ONS's strengths is the variety of methods to get new information."
Respondents were also asked to consider the ONS international initiatives, where they identified learning from other countries and partnering with other organizations as the best ways to reach these goals. A small but vocal group indicated that ONS's international initiatives were not important or that the focus should remain on the United States.
Health policy advocacy was also addressed in a question that asked respondents to identify the most important issues that ONS can support. Medicare reimbursement for oncology nursing and practice expenses topped the list of priorities there. Healthcare reform designed to overcome barriers to care for under/uninsured and underserved patients was a close second, and expanding access to clinical trials was also identified as important.
With a variety of professional organizations to choose from, ONS will continue to be oncology nurses "professional home" with nearly 90% of respondents choosing ONS over any other oncology, nursing, or professional membership association.
The ONS Board of Directors appreciated the feedback you provided and used it during the January 21-24 meeting, a portion of which was devoted to futures planning. The data will continue to be used in ongoing futures discussions will help to shape and revise the ONS Strategic Plan, which is used to guide program and service development and implementation as well as broad initiatives for meeting the mission and vision of the organization.