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Where did all the pharma and device funding go? how ONS chapters are coping.

Taking advantage of member experts, organizing potluck dinners, and seeking alternate funding are just some of the ways that ONS chapters are managing with the changing healthcare education regulatory environment.

In the past, chapters often were able to attract members to dinner programs made possible through funding from pharmaceutical and device manufacturing companies. However, certain states, institutions, and the federal government have placed restrictions on healthcare practitioners, resulting in challenges for local chapters.

One such chapter is the Boston chapter, where chapter leader Janice P. Maienza, RN, MSN, AOCN[R], says not only state law but also institutional policies can be difficult to understand.

"Our chapter, right now, is struggling to understand these policies while planning quality programs," Maienza says. One idea that her chapter is considering is holding a small vendor fair with educational meetings in a different room. "The flow of money to support programs has dropped dramatically," she notes. "We are doing smaller programs with pizza in our member hospitals."

Because the ONS Annual Congress will be held in Boston in 2011, many nurses from Massachusetts have expressed concerns about regulations that restrict healthcare providers from attending non-continuing nursing education (CNE) programs that offer a meal. Massachusetts is one of four New England states that currently place restrictions on these activities. The regulations place responsibility on the individual healthcare practitioner to understand and comply with the laws.


Anne Ireland, RN, MSN, AOCN[R], of the Northern Vermont chapter, says they are using more third-party CNE organizations and relying on internal experts and local speakers from within their facility.

"We are also doing more community service rather than educational sessions, which is actually helping us advance our organization's mission," she says.

Many chapters are dealing with reduced participation and difficulty funding programs. Donna Winberg, RN, OCN[R], from the Central Missouri Chapter, says that some of the best programs have been potlucks with chapter members doing the presentations. She says this is a "great way to promote our own talent."

The Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts Chapter offers CNE programs four to five times per year. Catherine C. Simmons, RN, MSN, OCN[R], CNS, says, "We do everything we can to produce them at a reasonable price from bring a friend for free to having the health center donate the food." Programming is generally geared toward chemotherapy and biotherapy certification and oncology nursing certification examination preparation.

For more information on what these regulations mean for oncology nurses from certain states, visit ONS President Carlton G. Brown, RN, PhD, AOCN[R], also addresses the topic in this month's Working for You column on p. 25.
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Title Annotation:Oncology Nursing Society
Publication:ONS Connect
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2011
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