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The Pay Off

Last time I wrote about the anticipation of attending Oncology Nursing Society Congress with two nurses who had never attended. The entire frame of reference and focus of attention had changed for me.

Last time I wrote about the anticipation of attending Oncology Nursing Society Congress with two nurses who had never attended. The entire frame of reference and focus of attention had changed for me. Rather than looking forward to the networking I would be able to do, catching up with old friends and finding out what was happening in the ONS world, I was explaining how to choose what programs to attend, what ancillary events were, when to see posters, and of course, the thrill of the vendor’s exhibit hall. What a great experience it was. To relive that excitement through someone else’s eyes was fascinating and rejuvenating. From the moment we arrived and quickly rushed to put up our posters and get registration completed, the excitement grew. Carrie and Joy wanted to make sure that the poster was hung just right, that our business cards were placed in the perfect spot and that our handouts were easily accessible to all of those who, most certainly, would want to take one home with them. At the registration area, they wanted to grab every ribbon that they could to put on their name tags: first time attendee, poster presenter, and even OCN. But that’s another story in itself.

During the opening session, everyone was touched by the remarkable ability of the speaker to reach that spot inside that reminded us of why we keep doing what we do. To feel the pride and the joy and the honor of being an oncology nurse was palpable. Next was the decision of what session to attend. They had their itineraries printed and choices made. Off they went eager to soak in everything they could. They had breakfast, lunch, and dinner meetings planned as well as poster, podium, and instructional sessions. Oh how I remmber thinking that not only did I want to do all of that, but thinking that somehow I certainly could. Evenings were filled with dinners, meetings, and some site seeing.

The vendor’s exhibit hall can be overwhelming to a first time attendee as well and was no different for Carrie and Joy. Comments about the extensive construction and elaborate educational opportunities were apparent. They went from booth to booth, sure not to miss any of them or any of the many pens, papers, books, bags, whatever they could fit into their big bags and carry, they did. I warned them to be judicious but when you’re a kid in a candy shop, it’s a little difficult to choose.

As the week went on, they typical things happened. Maybe today we’ll skip the early morning breakfast meeting. Tonight I’m so tired I don’t know if I can sit through another dinner meeting. Let’s just go have some fun. It’s all part of the experience. You think you can take in everything and despite, the warning, your mind and your body just cannot do all there is to do. So you choose. But they did great. They attended more than, I am certain some others did. They really soaked in the excitement and the vastness of Congress. They learned things that they could bring back and use in their practice. They sparked their minds as to what we can do to provide even better care. They imagined what project or program they could begin so that we can submit another poster next year. And they were certain, they would be back.

Then came time to pack. How are we going to take all of this stuff with us I heard. Now we had to go through all of the items collected and determine what they really wanted. Luggage was stuffed full. Overflowing bags became a carry on and purses were weighted down. Off to the airport. Another Congress over. We all had a wonderful experience and learned a lot. Some of that concerned oncology nursing and some how to get the most out of Congress without killing yourself in the process. But all of it was fresh and new and exciting especially through the eyes of someone’s first experience. I know that next year, I’ll have many more who want to attend. The fire is spreading already.