By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
As a daughter observing her mother’s cancer care more than
30 years ago, Pearl Moore, RN, MN, FAAN, knew there must be a better way, and
she wanted to positively influence nursing practice in the fledging field.
"It was a horrendous experience for her and our
family," Moore said. "Good, well-meaning people just stood in the
doorway, asked what they could do and ran away. It was very difficult."
The hesitancy Moore witnessed motivated her to improve nurses’
caring and compassion for cancer patients. She now serves as the chief executive
officer of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS).
"It’s come a tremendous way in treatments, in early
diagnosis, in prevention, in psychosocial care," Moore said. "There
has been dramatic change."
Moore has worked to enhance care: one-on-one in clinical
practice, in trials for new treatments and now through advocacy, representing
31,500 ONS-member nurses in legislative and federal policy matters.
Moore began her nursing career in the emergency room, in 1957,
then taught student nurses and headed up a school of nursing. She left her
academic position after her mom’s death to pursue a master’s degree,
specializing in oncology, still an emerging area of practice.
After graduation, Moore spent several years as one of the
first oncology clinical nurse specialists in the nation, working at Montefiore
Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She then joined the National Cancer
Institute as a clinical-trial coordinator for the Brain Tumor Study Group.
"It was a new field. The National Cancer Act was passed
in 1971, people were becoming interested," Moore said. "At an American
Cancer Society meeting, a bunch of us got together and said, ‘we need to
network with each other.’ "
The nurses started producing a newsletter, asking each other
about techniques, what worked, what didn’t, how to administer chemotherapy
drugs and manage the side effects. They learned from each other.
From those humble beginnings, ONS was created. The society
incorporated in 1975, with 25 members. Moore’s and other nurses’ volunteer
activities kept the organization vital. She later was named its first chief
executive officer in 1983.
Moore and her staff of 125 work to implement the board of
directors’ and work groups’ strategic plans. ONS aims to lead the
transformation in cancer care based on evidence-based practice.
"Education is what it is all about," Moore said.
"It’s leadership, education, advocacy. Everything comes back to our goal
of improving cancer care. That’s the mission. That’s what we are all about.
Everything we do is related to that mission."
Raising enough money to fund research, projects and
educational programs remains a constant challenge. Dues, industry contributions
and underwriting of research grants, book sales, and registration and
certification fees defray much of the cost.
Four corporations fall under the ONS umbrella: the original
society, the ONS Foundation, the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation and
Oncology Education Services Inc. ONS publishes two journals and a newsletter and
offers regional workshops and distant learning opportunities.
"I’d love to see us even larger," she said.
"A lot of nurses work in oncology but don’t belong to the society. They
are not on dedicated oncology units. There is a huge cancer population."
With baby boomers growing older, Moore expects an even greater
need for oncology nurses. She enjoys mentoring new graduates and developing
leaders in the oncology field.
Moore also is an adjunct faculty member and serves on the
board of visitors at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing and sits on
the advisory board of the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future,
a national effort to support and promote the nursing profession.
Much progress has taken place during recent years. Moore has
helped shape much of the professionalism currently associated with oncology
nursing. She has found it an enriching and rewarding career.
"It’s been a wonderful experience," she said.
"I love to come to work every day. I am a lucky person."
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