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  1. McMillan, Susan C. Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.

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The Nursing Advisory Group of the National American Cancer Society (ACS) met in February, 1980 to discuss the need for support of a professorship program for nurses similar to the Professors of Clinical Oncology Program initiated for physicians in the 1960s. The purpose of this new program would be to strengthen cancer nursing education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The policies governing support of the Professorships in Oncology Nursing were approved by the ACS Board of Directors in November, 1980. Patricia (Trish) Greene, RN, MN, a member of the National Advisory Group that first proposed the professorships in 1980, subsequently joined the national staff of ACS in 1981.


The first professor was appointed at the University of Washington in Seattle. Since that beginning, the number of professorships has grown and includes a number of states around the country. Several of these states (California, Florida, Maryland, and Pennsylvania) have had two professorships. Because of her commitment to moving nursing forward, Trish Greene was a strong supporter of the professorships from their initiation and was instrumental in securing the same recognition and opportunity for nurses as oncology physicians had through their Clinical Professorships in Oncology.


Although the Nursing Professorships are funded locally by the ACS Divisions, the National ACS sets the standards, approves, monitors, and evaluates the Nursing Professors and the professorship program. Each professorship application is reviewed by the National Subcommittee on Scholarships and Professorships in Oncology Nursing after review and approval by the local division. A professorship can be awarded only after a site visit to interview the candidate and to survey the proposed program. Final approval is given by the Subcommittee and the ACS Board of Directors.


As first envisioned, the goal of the professorship program was to enhance the care of cancer patients and their families and those at risk for cancer. The Subcommittee believed this could be accomplished by supporting oncology nursing education at both graduate and undergraduate levels. Professors had to be tenured or on tenure-earning lines and teaching in colleges of nursing that had graduate programs with a focus in oncology nursing. As the Professorship Program has matured, an additional emphasis on scholarship has been added.


The goals of the Professorship Program include:


* Providing an interface between the theoretical and clinical practice components of cancer nursing and strengthening the cancer nursing curriculum in the undergraduate and graduate programs.


* Contributing to the scientific foundation of oncology nursing by conducting or directing research, encouraging collaboration in research, and supporting nursing contributions to literature.


* Collaborating with the ACS and other ACS Professors.



Because this is a national program of the ACS, periodic evaluation must be conducted to ensure that its goals are being met. As this article details, the Nursing Professorships have required a very small investment for a very great return for cancer nursing. This evaluation report presents outcomes for a group of nine ACS Professors of Oncology Nursing.