Advanced practice and education
Advanced practice and continuing education opportunities are essential to implementing models that rely on an expanded scope of practice of nurses, cancer pharmacists, general practitioners in oncology and other primary care providers.
Consultation with partners highlighted the lack of capacity within current nurse and clinical practitioner resources as a key barrier to expanded scope of practice. It is critical that health system planners, care providers, professional associations and educational institutions work together to assess and plan for the current and future needs of local, regional and national populations.
A rapid review conducted by McMaster Health Forum and partner consultation identified a series of training and education programs that can complement the introduction of models of care that optimize the scopes of practice of non-specialists.
Part of a broader Family Practice Oncology Network in British Columbia, the General Practitioner in Oncology education program is an eight-week learning opportunity to strengthen the oncology skills of new GPOs and enhance cancer care in their communities.
Through support and training with the program, GPOs have the capacity to deliver chemotherapy and support oncology wards in rural settings. GPOs have guidance and support to help diagnose cancers and, with support from oncology specialists, manage patients during active treatment and provide follow-up support.
In addition to the GPO education program, the network includes:
- Cancer care guidelines customized to the needs of family physicians
- Continuing medical education opportunities
- A subscription to the Journal of Family Practice Oncology
- Research and evaluation project opportunities and results to increase the Network’s effectiveness over time.
Ontario’s Advanced Practice Nursing (APN) Toolkit provides a systematic approach to augmenting the role of APNs in cancer settings and within the community. It is based on the Participatory, Evidence-Based, Patient-Focused Process for Advanced Practice Nursing Role Development, Implementation and Evaluation (PEPPA) Framework for role development.
The toolkit can help health care teams:
- Implement models of care that optimize providers’ full scope of practice
- Determine if a new APN role would provide system or program benefit, and establish the APN scope of work
- Support implementation and evaluation of the new APN role
It is expected that some of the materials in the toolkit can be used to support other advanced health provider roles such as physiotherapists and advanced radiotherapists.
Ontario’s Oncology Nursing Program builds oncology nursing competency in cancer care by improving access to high-quality, person-centred oncology nursing expertise across the province.
The oncology nursing program supports:
- Promotion of the best use of nursing roles in oncology care
- Integration of nurses trained in the delivery of cancer services into community health systems
- Increased nursing knowledge and skills by building oncology nursing competencies and standards in the delivery of safe, effective, and high-quality cancer care
- Alignment of nursing competencies with regulatory and national standards to support their scale and spread
Manitoba offers advanced training for family physicians to develop skills in cancer management through the Cancer Care Enhanced Skills Program. The program focuses on patients with malignant disease and includes both didactic teaching and clinical rotations. It includes a comprehensive certification course and continuing education opportunities.
The enhanced skills program offers training in:
- Out-patient medical and radiation oncology
- Rural family practice oncology
- Palliative care or at an in-patient palliative care unit with exposure to surgical and psychosocial oncology
Trainees also have access to personalized training options such as surgical oncology, in-patient hematology, and research.
The Hematology/Oncology Residency at Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, California is a 12-month program that trains two residents annually to provide optimal care for patients while working effectively as a member of a healthcare team.
The program is designed to help pharmacy residents transition from generalists to specialists with a focus on care for patients with oncologic and hematologic disorders. Residency graduates are equipped to participate as integral members of interdisciplinary teams, assuming full responsibility for optimizing patient care as an oncology pharmacist.
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