Elizabeth Loach on Integrating Frontline Staff in Nursing Task Forces


Elizabeth Loach, MSN, APRN, CNS, AGCNS-BC, OCN, discusses the importance of including frontline nurses in nursing leadership task forces.

It is critical to include frontline staff in nurse leadership task forces, explains Elizabeth Loach, MSN, APRN, CNS, AGCNS-BC, OCN. In addition, task force meeting formats should be flexible to allow for systemwide attendance.

“When it comes to developing deliverables, you want products that nurses need,” she said, in an interview with Oncology Nursing News®. “So, our task forces are made up of frontline nurses.”

Loach presented a poster during the 48th Annual Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress highlighting how her institution executed a systemwide oncology nursing strategic plan. As she outlined in her poster, nursing governance and structure are key to elevating the voice of nursing in the health care setting. To that end, her institution, the Allina Health Cancer Institute (AHCI) had launched a vision of seamless of whole person cancer care. Although the vision recognized the nursing voice as critical for success, there were foundational gaps to achieving this.

The Oncology Nurse Leader Council (ONLC) convened under the direction of AHCI’s director or nursing. This was a meeting of both oncology nurse leaders and leaders of oncology nurses. Together, they engaged in 2 nursing strategic planning sessions.

The first of the strategic planning sessions was centered on preparing nurse leaders to engage in critical “catch ball” processes. This helped them prepare to promote bidirectional communication between the frontline staff to identify needs. During the second strategic planning sessions, leaders reviewed key themes that were provided by the nurse leaders. Together, they developed initiative and deliverables to address the identified gaps.

Following these 2 sessions, the council shared their new nursing strategic plan to the leadership groups both within and outside of the oncology department. Visual tools were used to track and share progress. These included nursing specific scorecards which were broadly shared across the operational and clinical leaders within the institute and the broader Allina health organization.

Ultimately, a charter was developed, and one of the first tasks of the ONLC was to approve this document. The nursing strategic plan included the creation of 3 task forces. These task forces were care, people, and patient experience and were aligned with Allina’s pillars. Moreover, each task force was focused on 1 or 2 initiatives, all of which stived to promote the overarching nursing strategic plan.

According to Loach, the initiative was integral in promoting the nursing voice, and when the council convenes, engagement and interaction were strong.

“We have been able to move initiatives forward through the ONLC that was not possible before it,” she concluded.


Loach E, Koroscik M, Ross R. Executing a system wide oncology nursing strategic plan. Poster presented at: 48th Annual Oncology Nursing Society Congress; April 26-30, 2023; San Antonio, TX. Accessed April 25, 2023. https://ons.confex.com/ons/2023/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/13045

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