The 3 C’s of Oncology Nursing: Care, Compassion, Commitment


Oncology nurses are on the front lines of patient care providing support and comfort along the cancer journey. According to the Gallup Poll, nurses are the most trusted profession and we would not attain this status without care, compassion and commitment–the theme of the 2015 Oncology Nursing Month (ONM).

In honor of ONM, I would like to highlight some of ONS’s policy efforts impacting the work of the oncology nurse and the patients we serve.

With a strong presence on Capitol Hill, ONS promotes our signature legislation, the Improving Cancer Education and Treatment Act, designed to provide dedicated, reimbursed time for an oncology nurse to provide symptom management education to patients, much like diabetic educators do. This bi-partisan legislation has support from Congress and federal regulatory agencies for its emphasis on prevention.

ONS also champions evidence-based research and federal investment in science and clinical training. Championing the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), oncology nurses are raising awareness for advances in palliative care, pain management and end-of-life treatment. These practical guidelines inform both the patient and the practitioner on how best to manage the treatment and care.

ONS accomplishes many of these goals by working in coalitions to help educate decision-makers. Through a national, grassroots network, ONS continues to reach elected-officials at the local, state, and federal levels, providing both empirical data and real life stories on what patients with cancer go through once diagnosed.

Personally, oncology nursing has been a passion of mine since the mid-1980′s. As a nursing student, I was exposed to many clinical opportunities, but none as moving to me as the first evening working on the oncology unit. An elderly woman just died as I walked on the unit to begin my shift as a nurses’ aid. I was moved by the care, compassion and commitment demonstrated by all of the nurses and ancillary staff that evening. My career in oncology began that evening and has been very rewarding.

About Michele

Michele R. McCorkle, RN, MSN, is the Executive Director of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS).  With more than 27 years of oncology nursing experience and 20 years in association management, Michele has executive oversight of the membership association, which encompasses education, research, publications, membership and component relations, integrated marketing communications, and health policy. During her 20 years at ONS, she has led a number of strategic efforts at ONS, including the development and leadership of Oncology Education Services, Inc., ONS’ for-profit subsidiary (1996-2005); the development of the ONS strategic plan, and partnerships.

Prior to joining the ONS staff, Michele was Patient Care Manager, Staff Development Instructor, and Clinical Nurse at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (now part of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, UPMC).  She received both her BSN and MSN from the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing.  Michele can be reached at 412-859-6266 or