City of Hope’s Betty Ferrell receives 2021 ONS Lifetime Achievement Award

Zen Vuong
DUARTE, Calif. — With nearly half a century of outstanding contributions to the field of oncology nursing, City of Hope’s Betty Ferrell, Ph.D., M.S.N., CHPN, was selected by the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Board of Directors to receive the society’s 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award. Ferrell is the director of the Division of Nursing Research and Education at City of Hope, principal investigator of the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) project, and a world-renowned author and lecturer.  
“I am so honored to receive this award from ONS,” Ferrell said. “It has been a great privilege to be a part of oncology nursing for the past 44 years and to witness the role of nursing in improving care for patients and families.” 
The ONS Lifetime Achievement Award is given annually at ONS Congress. It recognizes an ONS member who makes outstanding contributions to the field of oncology nursing and who has been a leader in the society and community. Ferrell joined a group of nearly 30 individuals to have received the award since 2002.  
Ferrell has dedicated her life to oncology nursing. In 1977, she began her career as a staff nurse in a 40-bed oncology unit and, after witnessing the focus on cure and treatment evolution rather than patient quality of life, Ferrell says she was inspired to improve pain management for patients with cancer. Through her master’s thesis, she discovered the hospice care model and began working with colleagues in the early stages of the holistic, palliative care specialty. She went on to receive a Ph.D. in nursing, focusing on palliative care and, in 1989, began her role as a nurse scientist in oncology at City of Hope, a research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases, where she remains.  
Throughout her research career, she’s received more than $70 million in grant funding as a principal investigator. Today, she leads ELNEC, a program that has trained more than 1 million nurses and other clinicians in 100 countries and all 50 states on palliative and end-of-life care.  
As a prolific author and lecturer, Ferrell has spoken internationally, earned numerous lectureship awards, and published more than 480 journal articles, holding the record for the most Oncology Nursing Forum articles of any author at 49.  
Ferrell has earned numerous accomplishments and awards, including the following: fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, member of the National Academy of Medicine, American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Walther Cancer Foundation Palliative and Supportive Care Award, and Sigma Theta Tau’s Episteme Laureate Award. 
“Betty Ferrell’s career-long contributions to palliative care and cancer survivorship are ingrained in the core of oncology nursing practice. Her influence has improved the quality of life for millions with cancer across the globe,” ONS President Nancy Houlihan, M.A., R.N., AOCN®, said. “She is truly a legend to oncology nurses for guiding our commitment to the ongoing needs of patients with cancer, and no one is more deserving of the ONS Lifetime Achievement award than she is.”  
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About City of Hope
City of Hope is an independent biomedical research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a leader in bone marrow transplantation and immunotherapy such as CAR T cell therapy. City of Hope’s translational research and personalized treatment protocols advance care throughout the world. Human synthetic insulin, monoclonal antibodies, and numerous breakthrough cancer drugs are based on technology developed at the institution. Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) became a part of City of Hope in 2016. AccessHopeTM, a wholly owned subsidiary, was launched in 2019, dedicated to serving employers and their health care partners by providing access to City of Hope’s exceptional cancer expertise. A National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, City of Hope is ranked among the nation’s “Best Hospitals” in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Its main campus is located near Los Angeles, with additional locations throughout Southern California and in Arizona. For more information about City of Hope, follow us on FacebookTwitterYouTube or Instagram.
About ONS
ONS is a professional association that represents 100,000 nurses and is the professional home to more than 35,000 members. ONS is committed to promoting excellence in oncology nursing and the transformation of cancer care. Since 1975, ONS has provided a professional community for oncology nurses, developed evidence-based education programs and treatment information, and advocated for patient care, all in an effort to improve quality of life and outcomes for patients with cancer and their families. Learn more at