The UCLA School of Nursing Alumni Network selected Paula Trahan Rieger, currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Oncology Nursing Society, as its 2014 Distinguished Alumnus. Rieger was honored at a special reception at UCLA on May 1.
According to one of Rieger's nominees: "Paula Rieger has helped shape the future of cancer care through her consistent promotion of the core values of the Oncology Nursing Society: Integrity, Innovation, Stewardship, Advocacy, Excellence and Inclusiveness. As an alumna of the UCLA School of Nursing baccalaureate class of 1978, Ms. Rieger has long exemplified what it is to be an ambassador for Nursing. Her commitment to research, advocacy and leadership on a global scale is unparalleled."
Rieger's career has been focused on oncology nursing. Prior to her work at the ONS, she served as the Director of International Affairs for the American Society of Clinical Oncology. As a nurse practitioner, Rieger worked at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston in the Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention, Human Clinical Cancer Genetics Program for 23 years.
Active at both the local and national levels of the ONS, Rieger served on the ONS Board of Directors as Secretary and on the Oncology Nursing Foundation Board of Directors from 1995-1998. She completed a two-year term as President of the Oncology Nursing Society in April 2002 and a two-year term as Immediate Past-President in 2004 where she served on the Nominating Committee. She also served as an Associate Editor for the Oncology Nursing Forum and was a co-editor of the Leadership & Professional Development column.
During her seven-year tenure as CEO, ONS made noteworthy strides in improving outcomes in patients with cancer. Among the successes under Paula's leadership is the completion of the development, testing, and validation of quality measures funded by the National Philanthropic Trust through the ONS Foundation. ONS's Putting Evidence into Practice resources served as the foundation for these measures, and they have grown to include over twenty symptoms experienced by patients with cancer.
In addition, Rieger provided corporate continuity for the ONS association and its three subsidiaries: the Oncology Nursing Society Foundation, Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation, and ONS:Edge through management of the national headquarters and its staff of over 130 individuals. She successfully navigated ONS through restructuring, leading to better financial stability. In 2008, ONS achieved the CEO Gold Standard Seal and has earned reaccreditation every year since. In 2013, ONS won the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility. All these accomplishments have taken place thanks to Paula's contributions.
Rieger received her Master of Science in nursing from The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Additionally Rieger has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from UC Davis and has been a certified association executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) since 2010.
The Distinguished Alumnus Award was created to honor the exemplary work and accomplishments by the School's Alumni. The first recipients were 60 alumni who "made a difference" in the history of the school. They were featured in a special publication when the school celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2009.
Since then, thanks to the work of the alumni network board, a deserving alumnus is recognized annually.