Thursday 19th September 2013
Alison Hill, Macmillan Nurse Director (pictured left), and Julie Latimer, Macmillan Learning and Development Manager (pictured right), describe how a programme of evening masterclasses is helping Masters-level students develop their interest in research.
In 2007, the London Cancer Network Nurse Directors published Action for London, a report that outlined a six-year vision statement for cancer care in the capital.
This programme of work was developed in response to a number of external reports.
In particular, the National Audit Office Report (2005), which highlighted that Londoners have a poorer experience of cancer treatment and care than patients in other parts of the country.
Research as a priority
The vision statement’s focus was the need for services and nurses to develop to meet the challenge of delivering care and support for patients, in such a diverse city as London. The document had ten key priorities. Cancer nursing research was one area identified as needing pan-London collaboration.
The priority is stated as: ‘Practitioners supported by and involved with ongoing research and practice development’. There was an acknowledgement that a great deal of research was underway across London in both cancer and palliative care nursing. However, this was uncoordinated and there was a possibility of duplication, as nurses did not go on to share or publish research, either undertaken as part of their role, or as part of a degree programme. This meant patients were not benefiting from the new ideas or changes as a result of the research, as findings were not widely known.
A pan-London group of cancer nursing clinicians and academics was set up to discuss the issues surrounding research, to identify some key ways to improve the situation and develop support for cancer nurses undertaking research.
A successful model for sharing and support were meetings already running across London for cancer nurses studying for a PhD. These enable both sharing and also an opportunity to present work to a critical, but supportive, audience. It was agreed that such meetings would provide a model for another meeting for nurses studying at Masters level.
For many nurses, studying at Masters level is an important, but daunting, part of their educational and career progression.
However, organisational support for these nurses is variable in terms of time off to attend classes and in ensuring support from others in similar programmes of study.
It was hoped that the Action for London Research Group Evenings would address these issues, but also give novice researchers the opportunity to discuss research methods, their research proposal and, ultimately, to present their finished research in a supportive group that includes a social aspect. The objectives were therefore to:
- encourage nurses to undertake Masters programmes
- provide a safe, friendly environment to encourage people to present their findings with the hope that confidence levels will increase, leading to further dissemination of findings at conferences.
Although the original target audience for the evenings was intended to be nurses, some allied health professionals have also attended and found them useful. To date, attendees have included people who are interested in undertaking Masters study, those about to start their dissertation, and some interested in the subject area under discussion.
Masterclasses are held in the early evenings to allow professionals to attend after work. The speaker is a nurse who has recently undertaken their Masters research in a cancer or palliative care related area.
The speaker discusses their research findings, but also the methodology, challenges and pitfalls along the way, as well as the reasons why a certain approach was used. The topic always generates a lot of discussion.
After this, there are opportunities for networking over refreshments. The programme has been greatly helped and supported by King’s College London, which has provided the venue and helped identify speakers. Comments from those attending have been very positive, with most commenting that they found the masterclasses had helped them ‘a great deal’.
There have also been positive comments about the style of the evenings. For example, ‘[I was] made to feel welcome’ and ‘[I was] able to speak to the speaker’.
Some of those attending also identified that the masterclasses would help them in their own research. For example, ‘When I complete my MSc, the hints and tips will be invaluable’ and, ‘Has made me want to get my own research off the ground’.
A number of those attending have been interested in the specific clinical area. There have also been positive comments about the value of hearing another’s experiences and receiving information that could be applied to their own practice.
The Action for London programme of work finishes this year. The research masterclasses will be one of the pieces of work that will continue, due to financial support from Macmillan, which funds the masterclasses and advertises the programme widely.
The next research masterclass takes place 6pm on 10 October at King’s College London. Clare Hearnshaw, Macmillan Lead Nurse for Cancer and Palliative Care, will present on ‘The provision of supportive care for patients with incurable cancer who are not thought to be in the last six months of life’.
All cancer nurses and allied health professionals who are already studying for or thinking of starting a Masters degree are welcome.
To book your place, email Abigail Burton. The authors would like to thank Professor Emma Ream at King’s College London for her continued support and help with this programme.
Email Alison Hill RGN, MSc, Dip. HV, Macmillan Nurse Director Cancer Commissioning Team North West and South (London) or call 07957 208285
Email Julie Latimer RN, RM, BSc (Hons) Macmillan Learning and Development Manager, Macmillan Cancer Support or call 07834 192232
London Cancer Network Nurse Directors. Action for London: a nursing vision for the capital 2007-2012. Macmillan Cancer Support. 2007.
National Audit Office. Tackling Cancer: Improving the Patient Journey. 2005. Department of Health, London.
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