How Attending my First ONS Congress Changed my Life

June 8, 2019

How attending a nursing conference changed my life

The ONS 44th Annual Congress showed up in my life during a critical moment. After growing up in California for the last 25 years, I made a huge life decision and moved to Oregon knowing only two people in the state. I also left my inpatient nursing family and started a new job as an outpatient infusion center nurse. After my move, I began to suffer from some depression. 

Having been a member of ONS for the last two years, I received an advertisement for the upcoming congress. I knew as a nurse eager to learn more about my career that I wanted to attend. I had no idea what to expect and as I walked into the keynote address I was brought to tears. For the first time in five months, I felt surrounded by the most uplifting, encouraging, and intelligent men and women. I felt at home and at peace with my life. It was inspiriting being surrounded by so many nurses in different walks of life but all having a common thread. 

Prior to switching jobs, I was experiencing burnout. I began to lack enthusiasm about work, was having a difficult time handling the emotions associated with a cancer diagnosis and death, and felt under-appreciated. As a newer nurse, I never imagined that I would experience burnout so early on in my career and questioned my decision of becoming a nurse. Throughout my life, I have always been led to nursing through a series of events. In high school, I was encouraged to pursue a career in science from a family doctor and discovered a certified nurses course that was set to begin in the next month. In line with the perfect timing and clues, I won a stethoscope during a pre-nurses event that the school of nursing was putting on as a freshman in college. During my junior year of college, a nursing counselor told me that I would never be a good nurse and that I should just quit. I quickly switched counselors and only received the best advice and encouragement that I could have imagined from my new mentor. She encouraged me to never stop learning and to seek leadership opportunities during my senior year and I then became a skills lab instructor. Upon graduating, I had no true path of what type of nurse I wanted to be: oncology nurse, emergency department nurse, or mother and baby nurse. It was my first and only interview for a nursing job that led me to be an oncology nurse. There are a million little moments that have happened since then that keep me passionate about being an oncology nurse. 

 Although my new hospital was not able to support me, I did receive some financial support from my local ONS chapter and was able to save to cover the rest of my expenses through careful savings. Just another simple reminder that I was in fact in the place I am meant to be. Attending my first (and will not be my last) ONS Congress instilled in me a new sense of pride for my profession and encouragement to grow together with not only my coworkers but other nurses as well. I left Congress being able to say firmly that oncology nursing is my passion. 

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