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The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) environmental scanning is a methodological system which allows the organization to gather relevant global information that has an effect on its work. The primary advantage of getting a SWOT analysis lies on reducing probability of the system's pricey malfunction. Other important goals of scanning are as follows: needs and satisfaction assessment; relevant up-to-date business, healthcare, government, and association management literature review; and collecting data which becomes available via trending sessions with ONS national and chapter leaders, its members, and its industry partners. Such analysis provides specific solutions that are based on the ONS article. The subsequent recommendations may reveal internal and external potential of the existing system (Miller et al. 2004; Kalish & Curley 2008)
Strength: The scanning process is geared for satisfaction assessment of the services and main products available to members. ONS offers a variety of resources including online and printed publications in periodicals and conference materials. ONS encourages its members to get involved in collaborative projects, mentorship, and networking. The analysis is based on the assumption that those members who have renewed their membership are satisfied with products and services available through ONS. Such satisfaction with the availability of educational resources and networking opportunities has been a priority for ONS.
It is of importance to the organization that services provided by ONS to its members, industry partners, and staff be customized. The programs made possible through ONS are expected to be in accordance with members' various generational needs. This way ONS makes sure that delivery and content meet the needs of individual users. Traditional methods and resources target older audiences, while younger members are better served with web-based activities.
Weakness: ONS competes for members' time with other professional organizations, not-for-profit and for-profit projects, patient advocacy groups, and the Internet in general. ONS is a volunteer-based organization. It does not benefit from reliance on corporate sponsorship: other ways and sources have to be found which requires a lot of creativity on the part of organization, due to decreased access to funds and intense competition. The ONS resources are limited and therefore the society becomes even more dependent on volunteers being proactive in spite of workplace and family pressures. Besides the diminished corporate funding in health care, there is also a growing concern with respect to possible conflicts of interest. Normally, the financial return of a research is based on an external (pharmaceutical) funding, rather than on an endowment.
SWOT External Factors
Opportunities: The major challenge that ONS faces today have been membership recruitment and retention while increasing relevant resources and services availability. The primary reason behind lapses of membership has been lack of value of the services offered by the organization. Services that are not easily available through ONS may be very well accessible through other venues. An efficient strategy under these circumstances would be retention ONS's loyal members by using traditional resources, while employing new and creative ways to expand membership for those looking for alternative resources. In this context, the focus should be on ensuring the availability to nurses of clinical trial results, as well as software similar or identical to the one used by health care professionals. The information on ONS mission, resources, and services must be accessible to members. On the other hand, it is important that current and future members understand what specific needs can be addressed by ONS. The clarification of reasons for joining ONS would have a positive effect on the organization's service spectrum. It is of great importance for the society to reach out to "ONS's Special Interest Groups (SIGs)", especially the ones aimed at health care industry's focus areas.
SIGs become especially important when it comes to problems reaching out to the customer and provider, including oncology nurses. Online newsletters, magazines, conferences are but some ways to target this circle of customers. It is of great importance that ONS explain and justify the value placed on volunteering and becoming socially proactive. One of the greatest opportunities today is provided by the international community, by its demands and resources. For example, lately, there has been a strong demand for Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) in South Korea.
Threats: Some factors impeding nurses' involvement in the society include, but are not limited to: a shortage of nursing personnel, barriers in clinical placement, restriction of classrooms space, continuing retirement of the nursing faculty, and its relatively low salary. Besides, there are alternative oncology and nursing professional associations that members may opt for in their pursuit of services. As for funding becoming available through grants and pharmaceutical industry, ONS finds itself in competition with many other organizations and projects, such as healthcare institutions, patient advocacy groups, government, and medical educational enterprises. In the present economy, due to the limit in resources, the ONS must create and justify its value for the partners.
Concerns regarding possible conflict of interest have a negative effect on funding, too. Financial ability of potential donors to support innovative educational programs has decreased significantly. The same is true for exhibitors who opt for smaller spaces for lower rates. The external funding, which has never been a significant part of financial support, is endangered by economy and can no longer be seen as a possible back-up source. Moreover, weak economy leads to increase in rates for space and banquet services. Members have to decide which organizations to join and which annual conferences to attend. ONS works in collaboration with other organizations that suffer from limited funding. At the same time, the latter often choose to increase clinical workloads thus reducing the time members have for volunteering. In other words, not only fewer members attend fewer events and purchase fewer services, but they also offer fewer hours as volunteers.
S-O strategies: The organization needs to opt for possibilities that are beneficial for ONS and make progress focusing on successful exemplary models. ONS has to look for paths to retain loyal members by providing traditional resources and at the same time to attract potential membership which is in search of non-traditional resources. It is of great importance that ONS clearly express the benefits of membership and explain the ONS's value. In that respect, I would recommend to focus on collaboration with similar national and international associations.
W-O strategies: In order to improve ONS work, it is necessary to first of all overcome the existing weaknesses. The organization should use every opportunity to address problematic areas. It is also of great importance to keep in mind possible intellectual property concerns. The paths to revenue sources must be creatively diversified.
S-T strategies: Another method to curtail the vulnerability of the organization is to fully use its strengths. In order to minimize negative effects, it has to focus on areas where good results have been achieved. In the attempt to achieve this goal, I would recommend to create and exhibit value for partners, as well as to demonstrate the overall value of oncology nursing. The society should become more visible to general public. Its role in providing cancer-related education materials for consumer must be clear to both the public and policy makers.
W-T strategies: A defensive plan must be created to balance ONS's weaknesses. The strategy would call for defensive actions in the most vulnerable areas within the organization. I would recommend ONS and their members as a whole to be more engaged in the new technologies development, implementation, and assessment. The goal is to make technological support up to date and in accordance with current trends, while addressing the needs of ONS individual members.
My Learning styles Inventory
Social learning style (19/20)
I have found that my dominant learning style is social approach. I communicate well with people, both verbally and non-verbally. People often come to me for advice, as they consider me a good listener sensitive to their problems, feelings, and moods. I enjoy mentoring or counseling. On the other hand, I can understand and accept other people's views. I typically prefer learning in groups, or find a study partner, or have one-on-one sessions with an instructor. I enhance my learning by bouncing my thoughts off to other people and listening to their feedback. When I am faced with issues or ideas that seem new or difficult, I prefer to work with a group. I enjoy working with a synergic, and a cooperative group of people. I often stay after class and talk to other students. I like to take part in social activities. If I play games, I prefer the ones that involve other people, for example card or board games. The same applies to team sports such as football or soccer, basketball, and volleyball.
While redesigning the ONS's environmental scan, I will try to make sure that members feel more secure and relaxed; I would opt for interactive learning activities such as online blogs, live/online conferences, e-groups for sales, couching, counseling, politics, human resources, etc.
Physical learning style (17/20)
I like to use my body and my tactile sensitivity to learn about the world around me. I like to play soccer, walk on the treadmill, and perform other physical activities such as fixing my house and gardening. I like "getting my hands dirty" while I work in my backyard or on my car. While I exercise, I often think about issues and ideas. While jogging or walking, I often listen to recorded lectures.
If something is bothering me, I would rather go for a run or a walk, than stay at home. I am attentive to the physical world around me. I notice and appreciate textures, such as textures of clothes or furniture. I gesture and use other kinds of body language to communicate. I enjoy dancing and park rides. I consider myself a hands-on learner, especially, when I learn a new skill or topic. In such cases, I prefer to "jump in" and try doing it rather than reading about it first. For example, when I bought a computer desk at an "IKEA" store, I put all the parts together without reading the long instruction or looking at the detailed diagrams. I am able to physically participate directly in what I'm required to learn or understand.
With respect to the task of redesigning the ONS's environmental scan, I would make it my goal to encourage members of the organization to get involved in workshops, national conferences, CEU's, etc. I will encourage them to use new electronic technology, such as "IPads (I prefer them). It would be beneficial to develop a program for the members that would include physical activities, like general physical work, walks for support of breast cancer, etc.
Logical learning style (17/20)
I enjoy using my brain for logical and mathematical reasoning. I can easily recognize patterns such as clinical pathways or connections between seemingly distant concepts. This ability allows me to classify and group information to help me learn or understand. I work well with numbers and I can perform complex calculations. I remember the basics of trigonometry, algebra, and organic chemistry. I work through problems and issues in a systematic way, and I like to create procedures for future use such as, for example, a "fire exit plan at my home." I enjoy setting numeric goals when I work on my finances, create budgets, and examine my monthly bills. I like to create agendas, itineraries, and rank them before putting into action. I have experience using the quantitative approach for clinical research. I like working out strategies, and play games (brainteasers, chess). I try to comprehend the logic behind concepts, as I learn by understanding the basic rationale behind every piece of information. I like to track my progress.
I will approach redesign the ONS' environmental scan by encouraging active online participation, such as reading and reacting to online publications, as well as writing case studies on oncology and partaking in professional blogs. I would reiterate and justify logically the value of the ONS membership. Web-activities should be diverse and suitable for learners of all styles. Also, I would use the newest computer technology which encourages constant learning and comprehension.
Solitary learning style (15/20)
At times, I can be quite private and introspective. I like the feeling of being concentrated, focused on current topics. I am aware of my own thinking and can trace my thoughts. I tend to analyze my feelings as well as reasoning modes. I often reflect on past events and the way I once approached them. I take time to ponder and assess my accomplishments or challenges. I like to make plans and set goals. I know my direction in life and work.
However, I must say that I don't like to spend too much time overworking problems. I may even keep a personal log on my iPad to record my thoughts, moods, and events. Although I am by nature a social person, sometimes I still need to spend time alone and prefer remote places, away from loud crowds. Another example of solitary activity is using the Internet. Although browsing the Internet may make some lonely people feel more connected and engaged (through social networks and blogs), I often use it as a solitary activity that requires concentration: reading and analyzing articles or taking an online course or workshop. The downside of this trait is that at times, I tend to spend too much time completing an assignment such as this homework.
When it comes to redesigning the ONS's environmental scan, I would make sure to offer an opportunity to work independently. I will stimulate activities where learners will be able to focus on a specific subject, topic or concept without using outside help.
Visual learning style (14/20)
I prefer using images, pictures, colors, and maps to organize information and communicate with others. I can easily visualize objects, plans and abstract concepts. I think that I have a good sense of direction and a strong sense of orientation. I easily find my way by using maps and rarely get lost. On occasions, I love drawing, scribbling and doodling, especially with colors. I believe that I have a good taste choosing in clothes and their colors (I personally prefer shades of blue and brown). My visual style inclination allows me to use picture descriptions and concepts while learning. In general, I learn best when ideas or subjects are presented in some kind of a visual format, whether it is written language, pictures, diagrams, or videos. Normally, I take detailed notes in class and often use highlighters to identify the most important parts of the text and retain them visually. In addition to that, I use flash cards and make lists, create diagrams and draw pictures to better understand and remember concepts and ideas.
While redesigning the ONS environmental scan, I would try to use people's visual style qualities to the fullest by employing contrasting colors, noticeable titles on the ONS's website, especially when giving descriptions of oncologic disorders. I would also use video presentations and design easy web-site navigation.
Verbal learning style (14/20)
Despite the fact that English is my second language, I usually find it easy to express myself. It is a good academic writing level that I still need to reach. I love reading and writing. I like playing on the meaning and sound, such as the ones in tongue twisters, rhymes, and limericks. When I study, I outline material and rephrase it in my own words. As a way to increase my own comprehension of a new material, I explain these concepts to others. I usually learn best by participating in class discussion, by listening lectures in class and the ones on audio tapes. My goal is to expand my vocabulary and actively use newly acquired words and idioms in my speech and writing. If I were to redesign the ONS's environmental scan, I would include public speaking approach: video debates about oncology blogs, articles, etc.
Aural learning style (14/20)
I like to work with classic and soft rock music in the background. I have a good sense of pitch and rhythm. I find it easy to repeat short song's passages and identify the sounds of different instruments. Certain music invokes strong emotions in me, especially music from the 1980s and 1990s. I usually notice the music playing in the background of movies, TV shows and other media, and remember the score.
Sometimes, when I study, I read texts aloud. I find it helpful to listen to CDs that come with some new books such as anatomy and physiology textbooks; sometimes they contain medical terminology. Sometimes, with permission from the professor, I use tape recorders to record lectures and then listen with headphones as I drive to school or do errands.
If I intended to redesign the ONS's environmental scan, I would put to use the aural aspect of learning by complementing visual images and concepts with audio information, thus maintaining a balance between the two styles.
My Personal SWOT
My Strengths: My innate communitarian attitude, compassion, sensitivity, and empathy comprise my strengths. They make me realize how important and rewarding in one's life the need for helping others is. I offer my time willingly when people need it. I have realized over the years that dedication and commitment help me develop my managerial, interpersonal, and career skills. I have to add to that at the very core of my inner self, there is a desire and a need to help my family. These values of which I am usually not aware and on which I don't dwell, must have been leading to my dream and my ultimate goals as a human being. Thus, nursing care, in other words, helping those in needs, fits naturally my view on life and my innate inclinations. One feels happy and rewarded when one can offer one's service to others. This is very important to me and I can consider it my strength.
Weaknesses: I think that my weaknesses stem mostly from my insecurities in the cognitive area. I have realized that I have problems to which I need to give a lot of attention. These weaknesses significantly impede my performance as well as pursuing my goals in life. My language insecurity in both writing and reading areas is rooted in remembering at all times that English is my second language. However, I am determined to overcome these weaknesses of mine. I have to admit that at times, I consider my intellectual capacity somewhat insufficient by the modern standards, but I believe this could be compensated and remedied by my openness to learning and persistence.
Opportunities: I have found that there are opportunities in life, such as pursuing a Doctor Nurse Practitioner degree, which one has to employ to the fullest. I always tried to turn strengths into opportunities in order to reach various goals in my life. Whatever strengths I have, I am willing to use them for the betterment of people's life and the professional organizations I belong to (National Hispanic Nurse Association, Gracia's Project, American Association of Nurse Practitioners). However, turning strengths into opportunity is only effective when certain interested party comes into play. And of course, my own voluntary act (Gracia's Project) is an essential part of turning my strengths into opportunities.
Threats: I have come to realize that I am only threatened by my weaknesses. These weaknesses obstruct the path to my performance and my self-formation as a whole human being. I know for fact that internal and external factors complement each other, and strengths produce opportunities, while weaknesses produce threats. To sum up my weaknesses, they consist mostly of language insecurities and cognitive limitations. In today's world which moves towards a single culture and in which everything seems to be moving and changing so fast, a furious competition is inevitable. Frequent changes in trends and endless innovations of technology threaten my capability to compete with those who are more equipped educationally. Hence, completing required courses, such as CEUs and persistence in later continuing my education and upgrading my skills represent the only possible path to my professional goals.
The above evaluation on my personal SWOT has a great effect on my performance as a health care professional and as a human being. It helps me identify important aspects of my professional and human development, as well as offered information which, no matter how precise or inaccurate, suggests what my own strengths and weaknesses really are. In this context, it becomes necessary to try to find effective solutions in either decreasing and finally eliminating my weaknesses, or transforming them into strengths and opportunities. It seems to be the only way for me to be able to compete with others in the global community. It makes it clear how necessary it is to constantly monitor and eliminate possible threats to my performance. At the same time, I am determined to continue to evaluate and identify my strengths and weaknesses in order to be more adaptable and flexible at the workplace. At the same time, the analysis of my personal SWOT becomes an invaluable tool on strategy formation within an organizational setting such as the ONS.