The Oncology Nursing Society has created two task forces to spearhead new initiatives in the areas of gero-oncology advocacy and survivorship. The ONS Geriatrics Task Force, chaired by Deborah Boyle, RN, MSN, AOCN, of Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, was created after the Society received funding from the Harford Institute for Geriatric Nursing to plan initiatives to address the educational needs of nurses who care for older patients with cancer.
“Most oncology nurses do not consider themselves geriatric specialists, but cancer is typically a disease of older adults,” ONS President Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, said in a news release. “As the population continues to age, all oncology nurses caring for adults must become knowledgeable about the special needs of older people with cancer. In addition, because of other age-related illness and considerations, all nurses can benefit from increased awareness of the needs of these patients.”
A separate survivorship initiative is designated to focus on raising awareness of the importance of the issue, educate ONS members, and provide resources to help reach the larger nursing community.
As a starting point, the ONS Survivorship Task Force has formally accepted the official definition of survivorship identified by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivors (“An individual is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis through the balance of his or her life; family members, friends, and caregivers are also impacted by the survivorship experience and are therefore included in this definition”), and will concentrate its efforts specifically on the unmet needs of patients immediately following active primary treatment, as emphasized by the Institute of Medicine report Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs.