Local ONS Chapters Use Creative Strategies to Recruit, Retain Members, Strengthen Community Ties

TON - August 2010, Vol 3, No 5 published on September 13, 2010 in Conference Correspondent

SAN DIEGO—Creative strategies used by local chapters of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) to recruit and retain members and reach out to their local communities were described in poster presentations at the 2010 Congress. Using these strategies, the chapters not only increased membership but also strengthened ties with their communities.

San Diego ONS chapter meets goal of 210 by 2010

With the prospect of hosting the 35th ONS Congress in 2010, the San Diego, California, 2008 chapter president set a goal of having 210 members by 2010. Thanks to the efforts of the chapter members, membership increased by more than 50% from 134 members in 2008 to 205 in December 2009. By April 2010, the chapter reached its goal and then some. Membership was at 219.

Chapter committees were formed, drawing up detailed plans with a 2-year timeline. The members used innovative interventions to recruit and retain members. Methods for recruitment included:

  • Creating a network of nurse liaisons to verbally communicate to nurses in their practice about chapter events, distribute applications, and answer questions
  • Developing a PowerPoint presentation and presenting it to nurses in practices that lacked membership
  • Reaching out to student nurses by offering free dinner meetings, guidance, and mentorship
  • Holding contests for membership recruitment efforts and meeting attendance
  • Using an e-mail campaign to national ONS members who were not local chapter members.

Efforts to retain members included:

  • Offering eight $400 educational scholarships per year
  • Offering a discount for 2-year membership
  • Holding meetings in all areas of the county
  • Offering continuing education units at dinner meetings.

This dramatic increase has proved beneficial on many levels. Chapter efforts continue, with the chapter now developing a strong community presence.

According to Ellie Flores, past president of the San Diego ONS chapter, “We feel that our nursing colleagues and employers throughout the county truly value the nurse who belongs to the Oncology Nursing Society. We also hope that by sharing these interventions with other chapters we have established an effective model for chapter growth and development.”

Richmond chapter rekindles the flame

The Richmond, Virginia, chapter of ONS also made efforts to revitalize their membership and get back to their original goals and mission. As described by Jennifer Graff, RN, OCN, CHPN, of Thomas Johns Cancer Hospital, the chapter set specific goals, including:

  • Establishing a scholarship program to send someone to ONS Congress
  • Fundraising for community events
  • Holding organized business meetings
  • Improving members’ accountability
  • Increasing chapter participation
  • Creating a local chapter website
  • Involving chapter members in national ONS interests.

With direction provided by the ONS Leadership Development Institute and the ONS Mentorship Weekend, the chapter took steps to achieve these goals, including recruiting volunteers to establish the chapter website and chair a scholarship committee. Through the efforts of the scholarship committee, the chapter was able to send a representative to Congress and community outreach programs are planned.

Ann Arbor chapter reaches out to community

Jeanne McDonagh, MSN, RN, OCN, and Tsu-Yin Wu, PhD, RN, of Eastern Michigan School of Nursing, Ypsilanti, reported on a project carried out by the Ann Arbor, Michigan, chapter of ONS. Chapter members collaborated with a local school of nursing, local school districts, and other organizations to design, implement, and evaluate a colorectal cancer (CRC) screening and awareness project in an underserved community.

The project team trained community health nursing students as program facilitators to deliver interventions in middle school and high school classrooms. A total of 1800 students received the interventions and wrote letters to their significant others and family members about the importance of CRC screening. The project increased participants’ awareness of CRC and their intention to be screened. The success of this project, the investigators said, shows that “oncology chapters and individuals can develop this type of intervention to make a significant impact in their communities.”

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Last modified: May 21, 2015