Our History

After the first National Cancer Nursing Research Conference in 1973, 20 oncology nurses discussed the need for a national organization to support their profession. The Oncology Nursing Society was created after this initial meeting. These 20 nurses used word-of-mouth to spark interest among their colleagues to launch this organization.

Over the years, we have grown to include more than 35,000 members and are now known as the standards bearer of advanced cancer care. Here are a few highlights of our amazing journey.

  • ONS is incorporated on July 17, 1975 in Illinois.
  • In January 1976, ONS charter membership is recorded at 488 members.
  • ONS is accepted into the National Federation of Specialty Nursing Organizations.
  • ONS's first journal, the Oncology Nursing Forum (ONF), is indexed in the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature and in the International Nursing Index.
  • ONS conducts our first research priorities survey.
  • The first ONS chapters, Chicago and Cleveland, are chartered.
  • ONS Hires Pearl Moore, RN, MN, FAAN, as its first executive director (CEO).
1984 1984
  • The Oncology Nursing Press, Inc., a for-profit subsidiary of ONS, is incorporated.
  • ONS becomes an American Nurses Association-accredited approver and provider of continuing education.
  • Eighteen ONS special interest groups (SIGs) are established.
  • Meeting a longstanding goal of the Society, an ONS member is appointed to the National Cancer Advisory Board by President George H.W. Bush.
  • Oncology Education Services, Inc. (OES) is incorporated.
1997 1997
  • ONS moves into its new national headquarters at 125 Enterprise Drive in Pittsburgh, PA.
ONS Headquarters
  • Paula Rieger, RN, MSN, CAE, FAAN becomes ONS's second chief executive officer.
  • Putting Evidence into Practice (PEP) makes its debut in the form of cards. PEP continues to evolve, publishing A Guide to Oncology Symptom Management (Second Edition) in 2015.
  • ONS and ASCO develop the first national standards for the safe administration of chemotherapy drugs, updated in 2016.
  • ONS gets new branding and introduces today’s logo.
ONS logo
  • The first ONS public policy advocate is hired to help raise awareness for cancer nurses, patients, and research.
  • The first-ever ONS initiated legislation is introduced in Congress: Assuring and Improving Cancer Treatment Education and Cancer Symptom Management Act of 2008.
Assuring and Improving Cancer Treatment Education and Cancer Symptom Management Act of 2008
  • Then-ONS President Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN, is present at the White House as President Obama signs into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
  • ONS introduces its patient-focused publishing imprint, Hygeia Media, and launch its first books.
  • ONS is granted full membership into the Alliance for Nursing Informatics (ANI).
  • The Educator Resource Center is launched, with teaching tools for incorporating oncology topics into nursing degree programs.
  • ONS and ONCC launch the Radiation Oncology Nursing Certificate Program.
  • ONS receives a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to test new strategies for improving the quality of cancer care.
  • ONS is awarded Accreditation with Distinction as a provider of continuing nursing education, the highest recognition awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC’s) Accreditation Program.
  • The number of ONS chapters exceeds 220.
  • Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN, becomes ONS’s third chief executive officer.
  • Oncology Nursing Forum is ranked first for impact factor from among 106 journals in the nursing category.
  • ONS hosts a congressional briefing on palliative care.
  • The ONS/ONCC Chemotherapy Biotherapy Certificate Course is launched; more than 40,000 participants register in its first year.
  • Then-ONS President Mary Gullatte, PhD, RN, ANP, BC, AOCN®, FAAN, was appointed to the Joint Commission Nursing Advisory Council for the 2014–2016 term.
  • For the second consecutive year, ONS receives the American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award in the consumer health category. This Should Not Be Happening: Young Adults With Cancer, written by Dr. Anne Katz, took first place.
  • ONS member Deborah Watkins Bruner is appointed by President Obama to the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB).
  • Kristine Burns becomes ONS’s chief administrative officer.
  • ONS launches a Quality Clinical Data Registry (QCDR).
  • ONS member Carol Ferrans is appointed to National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors.
  • ONS narrows its core values to three: innovation, excellence, and advocacy.
  • ONS CEO Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN, is invited by Vice President Biden's staff to be on the roundtable panel at Duke University to discuss the moonshot initiative. Also, Vice President Biden holds additional moonshot roundtables later in February in which ONS members Kathleen Mooney, PhD, RN, FAAN (Huntsman Cancer Center, Salt Lake City, UT), and Christine Miaskowski, RN, PhD, FAAN (University of California, San Francisco), represent oncology nursing.
  • ONS member and past president Deborah K. Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN, is appointed to the National Cancer Institute Blue Ribbon Panel to advise the National Cancer Advisory Board as part of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. She is the only nurse appointed.
  • Three ONS members—Mayer, Mooney, and Jeannine Brant, PhD, APRN, AOCN®, are appointed to the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative Blue Ribbon Panel working groups, which will identify major areas of opportunity that could lead to significant breakthroughs in cancer research.
  • ONS secures office space in Washington, DC, to open the first satellite office on Capitol Hill.
  • The Nominating Committee officially became the Leadership Development Committee at Congress 2016.  The change was part of the governance bylaw amendments that were approved during the 2016 election.
  • ONS is represented on the National Cancer Policy Forum (NCPF) and invited by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to represent oncology nursing during a series of NCPF workshops.
  • Lori Brown is hired as ONS’s first chief experience officer.
  • ONS participates in 16 international meetings in the Netherlands, Cuba, Oman, China, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, and Canada to promote quality cancer care globally.
  • ONS officially launches the Center for Advocacy and Health Policy to provide a daily presence on Capitol Hill.
  • ONS appoints its first scholar-in-residence to provide strategic direction, ensuring ONS’s resources meets the needs of people with cancer, as well as those of nurse researchers in cancer care.
  • ONS CEO Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN, is appointed to the Biden Cancer Initiative Advisory Panel and co-led a patient navigation session at the Biden Cancer Summit.
  • ONS creates an Immunotherapy Wallet Card in English and Spanish to bridge communication and facilitate patient and healthcare professional understanding of recent and historic cancer treatment.
  • 110 oncology nurses hold 330 meetings on Capitol Hill with the offices of U.S. senators and representatives to influence decision making on pending bills related to nursing, cancer, opioids, coordination of care, and palliative care.
ONS Capitol Hill Days 2018
  • ONCC hires Tony Ellis, CAE, as the second person in history to serve as Executive Director.
  • ONS launches Center for Innovation to develop innovative new resources, projects, and applications to meet the future needs of oncology nurses.
  • The Oncology Nursing Foundation hires Anizia Karmazyn as new Executive Director to increase support for oncology nursing education, research, and leadership.
  • The ONS podcast begins offering NCPD and is downloaded more than 100,000 times.
  • Lori Brown becomes Executive Director of ONS.
  • After years of planning and saving, ONS pays off the mortgage on the Pittsburgh headquarters.
  • In response to Covid-19, ONS cancels the 45th annual Congress in San Antonio, and creates the virtual event, ONS Bridge.
  • ONS CEO Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN, is invited to the White House to advocate for nursing and discusses cancer, Covid-19, and the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage for healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • ONS launches five clinical practice guidelines providing evidence-based symptom management recommendations for patient care. 
  • ONS Center for Innovation launches ONS On-Call™, an oncology-specific decision support tool to guide standardized, evidence-based symptom assessments. 
Brenda Nevidjon at White House regarding COVID-19
  • ONS launches ONS On-Demand™, a new business-to-business content distribution platform, to improve course purchase, assignment, and utilization review for employers.
  • ONS collaborates with the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation (HPNF), Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA), Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN), and Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) to develop free video series on grief for frontline providers.
  • The third ONS-ONCC Hackathon™ is held to create innovative solutions for current and future nurses.