The 2009 Helene Hudson Memorial Lectureship: Creating opportunities to support oncology nursing practice: Surviving and thriving
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There is a growing body of evidence to support that specialization in nursing leads to improved outcomes for patients, including increased QOL, improved symptom management, and fewer hospital admissions. Oncology nurses face several challenges in pursuing specialization, due to individual and system issues such as limited time and resources. To address these challenges, de Souza Institute launched a province-wide study group for nurses in Ontario who planned to write the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) Oncology Certification Exam. The study group was led by educators from de Souza and Princess Margaret Hospital and drew expertise from nursing leaders across Ontario who shared the same vision of oncology nursing excellence. The study group was innovative by embracing telemedicine and web-based technology, which enabled flexibility for nurses' work schedules, learning styles, physical location and practice experience. The study group utilized several theoretical perspectives and frameworks to guide the curriculum: Adult Learning Theories, Cooperative Learning, Generational Learning Styles, CANO standards for practice and the CNA exam competencies. This approach enabled 107 oncology nurses across the province in 17 different sites to connect, as a group, study interactively and fully engage in their learning. A detailed evaluation method was utilized to assess baseline knowledge, learning needs, cooperative group process, exam success rates, and document unexpected outcomes. Ninety-four per cent of participants passed the CNA Oncology Exam. Lessons learned and future implications are discussed. The commitment remains to enable thriving through generating new possibilities, building communities of practice, mentoring nurses and fostering excellence in oncology practice.
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