Oncology Nursing Society Elects New President

This year's ONS Annual Congress marks the first at which Mary Gullatte, PhD, RN, APRN, BC, AOCN, will serve as the organization's president.

Mary Gullatte, PhD, RN, APRN, BC, AOCN

This year’s Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Annual Congress, held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, from May 3-6, marks the first at which Mary Gullatte, PhD, RN, APRN, BC, AOCN, is serving as the organization’s president.

An associate chief nursing officer at Emory Healthcare’s Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, Gullatte has spent more than three decades providing hands-on healthcare service as a nurse and volunteering at every opportunity, dedicating much of that time and effort specifically toward patients with cancer. That experience was widely regarded by her peers in selecting her as the new president of ONS.

On the day before the official start of the Congress, Gullatte participated in a panel discussion entitled The Art of Negotiation: Empowerment in Education, Research, Practice, and National Policy. The 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report The Future of Nursing served as a backdrop for the presentation.

Some of the key messages addressed in the IOM’s report include establishing closer partnerships with other healthcare professionals, practicing to the full extent of your education, and better and more effective workplace planning and information infrastructure. Gullatte said those findings are especially important in oncology nursing, where nurses with specialized training should be utilized to the fullest extent of their abilities.

While the report established current challenges, Gullatte is not one to wait around and see what problems develop. She is determined to anticipate potential challenges and eliminate them before they become actual problems.

“My plan [for ONS] is really about leading from the future,” Gullatte said. “We’ve got to really take a good look at where healthcare is going and where our priorities are going to have to be.”

Gullatte said that there is a reason she calls it “leading from the future” and not “leading for the future.” She makes the distinction because she wants to be able to interpret information that looks at future trends in nursing and start using that information today in order to help plan for changes that are both expected and unexpected.

One area in which Gullatte anticipates challenges is with methods of delivering care. “Delivery models are going to have to change,” Gullatte said. “We are going to have to transition to a new model of acute care, and we have to be able to figure out what that is in a way that’s best for both the patient and the caregiver.”

Gullatte also anticipates a potential workforce shortage in oncology nursing. The average age of an oncology nurse is somewhere around 44 years, but that age is increasing as more nurses delay retirement because of their economic situations with fewer new nurses coming in to replace them. “People have been led to believe that there is not a nursing shortage, but there is,” said Gullatte.

Note: Be sure to go to OncLive TV following the ONS 2012 Congress to watch our video interviews with Gullatte.


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