The importance of connections with other nurses has never been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many oncology nurses desire to connect and reconnect with their colleagues, but restrictions on social gatherings and patient care and staffing priorities create challenges. Professional networking or building relationships is an essential—and often fulfilling—part of a nurse’s career. Benefits of professional networking include sharing best practices, developing a support system to reduce nursing burnout, and supporting or creating opportunities for career advancement.
Whether you are looking to reconnect or want to connect for the first time, here are 5 critical professional networking opportunities for oncology nurses:
- Reconnect with colleagues
Oncology nurses encounter high-stress workplace situations, sometimes resulting in emotional distress that leads to nurses’ burnout. Having strong relationships and someone to talk to can lessen this burden and make the workday more enjoyable. Gather outside for a meal or walk with a coworker during a break if time or guidelines allow. Consider meeting outside of work hours for activities like a fitness class, art class, or meal to unwind with your coworkers. These simple acts can be meaningful in fostering relationships.
- Join a professional organization
Membership in a professional organization unites oncology nurses to exchange ideas and information to keep current with the ever-changing advancements in oncology. The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) and the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN) are two of the many excellent oncology-specific nursing organizations. Learning new information, networking, and peer support help you feel connected with others in the field. It can have a positive impact on work as a whole.
- Attend local nursing meetings, either in person or virtually
Local nursing organizational meetings (such as ONS Chapter meetings) provide fun ways to connect with oncology nurses in the area. Pharmaceutical companies often sponsor educational programs at a popular restaurant during local meetings to help oncology nurses learn more about specific drugs or oncology topics. Be sure to check your institution’s employee guidelines first, as some organizations have policies for any gatherings outside of work. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these guidelines can change frequently depending on surges. If local meetings are unavailable, look for virtual or hybrid educational programs.
- Participate in nursing discussion boards
If you want to ask a question or share an idea about oncology practice, join a nursing discussion board or social media group to exchange information. Learn about innovative work that oncology nurses are doing in their workplace that may influence patient care in your organization. The ONS Community is a discussion board available to all ONS members. “Nurses In Oncology” is a private Facebook group to empower nurses working in oncology or those considering oncology to collaborate with colleagues. If you find a post of particular interest, connect with the author. Most oncology nurses find sharing expertise with other nurses a rewarding experience.
- Volunteer with other oncology nurses
Volunteering allows oncology nurses to connect while sharing time and skills toward an important cause. Consider speaking at a patient support group (either facility-based/faith-based sponsored or through Cancer Support Community). Join a local outreach event (health screenings, organizational fundraisers, or free clinics). For example, many oncology nurses volunteer to provide uninsured patients at the Greater Dallas Arya Samaj Cancer Clinic in North Texas. If you cannot participate in person, there are many virtual volunteer opportunities, such as serving on a planning committee or a nurse advisory board.
Oncology nursing networking opportunities exist everywhere. However, connecting and reconnecting requires intentional, ongoing professional investment. Consider selecting or building on one of these 5 opportunities or a different idea.
Share your connecting and reconnecting ideas with Cancer Nursing Today at firstname.lastname@example.org
Professional Networking in Nursing