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It Begins with an RN: Pearl Moore, ONS CEO


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Profile: Oncology Nursing Society (ONS)

President (2003-04): Judy E. Lundgren, RN, MSN, AOCN

Members: More than 30,000 registered nurses and other healthcare providers

Founded: 1975

Publication: The ONS Publishing Division publishes the Oncology Nursing Forum, Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing and ONS News.

Mission: The mission of the Oncology Nursing Society is to promote excellence in oncology nursing and quality cancer care.

Web site: http://www.ons.org/

Telephone: (866) 257-4ONS (4667)

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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