Tahitia Timmons MSN, RN-BC, OCN
Clinical Editor, CEConnection
For National Nurses Week, I had the opportunity to interview Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN. Brenda is the current Chief Executive Officer at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). Prior to being the CEO at ONS she was faculty at Duke University School of Nursing in Durham, NC. She has spent over twenty years being an influential voice in oncology nursing through her writing and leadership. She has numerous publications, including four books, twenty book chapters and over 20 journal articles. Throughout her career she has been a mentor for nurses who wanted to have a voice in leadership, their work, and publishing.
Like many, Brenda’s path in nursing did not follow the route she had planned. With a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing, she thought she would eventually become a clinical psychologist. However, the opportunity to work at one of only three bone marrow transplant sites in Europe changed her plans to oncology. When she returned to the United States, this experience enabled her to become the head nurse at Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center’s cancer research unit. During her career, leadership has also been an integral part of her nursing path. She was the first nurse and woman to be named as chief operating officer of Duke University Hospital.
Brenda has served on numerous cancer-related boards, including the Institute of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Forum Board, the Association of Community Cancer Centers and the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care. When the Cancer Moonshot was started in January of 2016, led by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, she was involved with meetings to ensure the voice of oncology nursing was present. She was also an ignite speaker in the breakout session, “Putting the Patient at the Center of Access and Care” at the Cancer Moonshot Summit.
Brenda personally influenced and helped my early days as an oncology nurse with a book she edited titled Building a Legacy: Voices of Oncology Nurses.
In the preface, she talked about how important it is for nurses to tell our stories and that editing the book had been a “gift.” When I became an editor, I reread her preface and reflected on the concept of the gift of stories (our words) and what an important influence they are in nursing.
In keeping with the 2018 theme of "Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence" I decided to ask Brenda these questions:
What keeps you inspired when things are difficult?
“The vision of the Oncology Nursing Society since the 1990s has been to lead the transformation of cancer care. This is a north star for me when things are difficult. I believe that oncology nurses must be equal partners in the cancer care environment, in clinical practice, research, and education. Ensuring that our voice and expertise are integrated throughout the cancer care continuum keeps me working for our members and the patients for whom they care.”
What is the most innovative idea or thing you have heard about in oncology recently?
“Sometimes the simplest of things can be innovative. As more immuno-oncology agents are being approved, concerns about side effects management have become a focus. Some of these side effects present like the ones we see from chemotherapy, but the treatment is not the same. Realizing that patients may go to urgent care clinics or emergency rooms, staff developed a wallet card for nurses to give patients, so they can inform caregivers in those settings about the agent they are taking. Treating the side effect properly will avoid complications that could be life threatening. So far, we have distributed over 60,000 of these free wallet cards.”
Who has been the biggest influence on your nursing career?
“There is no one influence on my career, but as a young unit manager, the chief nurse of the hospital saw my potential and provided me the courage to leave and reach for an opportunity across the country. I always advise mentees to remain open to possibilities that can take you to amazing places and experiences.”
Brenda’s answers are aligned with the way that she leads and influences. She sees the innovation in all the things we do, is inspired by the idea that nurses have the power to transform care and sees the possibilities in us all, if we are open to them.
Chief Executive Officer. (2016, March 16). Retrieved April 13, 2018, from https://www.ons.org/about/leadership/ceo
Pirschel, C. (2016, February 26). Brenda Nevidjon Attends Cancer Moonshot Roundtable With Vice President Biden. Retrieved April 13, 2018, from https://voice.ons.org/news-and-views/brenda-nevidjon-attends-cancer-moonshot-roundtable-with-vice-president-biden
The Western PA Healthcare News Team. (2014, July 14). Oncology Nursing Society Names Brenda Nevidjon as New CEO. Western Pennsylvania Healthcare News. Retrieved April 14, 2018, from https://www.wphealthcarenews.com/oncology-nursing-society-names-brenda-nevidjon-as-new-ceo/