Tuesday 12th June 2012
Karen Orr shares details of a pilot placement scheme to prepare student nurses to deliver cancer care.
Even in 2012, many people with cancer will not meet a specialist cancer nurse. However, most of those who visit a hospital for treatment will encounter a student nurse and a junior staff nurse.
With this in mind, a group of interested cancer care professionals got together to consider how to better prepare undergraduate nursing students to deliver care to people with cancer.
The group developed a pilot model of practice placement and supporting education using a ‘Hub and Spokes approach’, whereby the hub was a surgical in-patient unit specialising in breast cancer surgery and head and neck cancer surgery at NHS Fife, and the spokes were areas linked to the hub. These including community care, radiotherapy and chemotherapy services, the Macmillan benefits advice service, social work services, and other third sector partners.
The group worked with other professionals to develop learning outcomes for each area; integrate the NHS Education for Scotland capability framework
with Nursing and Midwifery Council domains and proficiencies;
prepare and support a student mentor at the hub; and evaluate the pilot.
In 2011, three students at the University of Dundee volunteered to take part at the end of their second year. Cancer and palliative care are taught as themes spread across the programme, but the greatest taught component is delivered prior to this placement experience, therefore offering the best alignment between theory and practice.
The student mentor was responsible for agreeing the students’ learning programme, coordinating the spoke placements, supporting the students through structured reflection, and undertaking formal assessment partnership with the university.
In each spoke, a healthcare professional was identified as the students’ support person. Focused educational visits were also arranged at some spokes with non-nursing professionals.
These placements weren’t formally approved for students by the university, however all placement areas were asked to provide learning outcomes for the visiting students. These were aligned to overall aims of the project and the NES capability framework.
An evaluation showed that the students valued the project and believed it provided a greater understanding of treatment and care of people with cancer. They also said they developed an understanding of multidisciplinary team working and patient management, as well as being more conscious of the importance of patient education.
The model is being implemented across the university’s undergraduate nursing programme and has been extended to other long-term conditions.
Contact Karen Orr, Macmillan Senior Learning and Development Manager for Scotland on 07894 566608
or email Karen
NHS Education for Scotland (NES). Working with Individuals with Cancer, their Families and Carers: Professional Development Framework for Nurses Specialist and Advanced Levels [PDF, 267Kb]. 2008. (accessed 21 March 2012).
Nursing and Midwifery Council. Standards to support learning and assessment in practice. 2008.