San Francisco, CA—A study evaluating a new model for education of primary care nurse practitioners (NPs) in oncology practice has shown effective delivery of essential basic care competencies.
“The ONc-PoWER web-enhanced oncology orientation program was favorably evaluated by NPs new to specialty care and their mentors,” said Margaret Quinn Rosenzweig, PhD, FNP-BC, AOCNP, FAAN, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. “This method of electronic orientation could standardize the exposure of essential basic care competencies upon entry to oncology NP practice.”
As Dr Rosenzweig reported at the 2016 Cancer Survivorship Symposium, NPs new to cancer care are entering practice without any standardized oncology curriculum. “There is evidence that a gap in knowledge exists for NPs entering cancer care, which can lead to poor patient outcomes, risk management vulnerabilities, and high clinician attention,” she explained.
While existing online continuing education programs use traditional PowerPoint presentations with voiceover teaching methods, Dr Rosenzweig developed a program based on the Oncology Nursing Society’s Oncology Nurse Practitioner Competencies. The program, entitled Oncology Nurse Practitioners Web Education Resource (ONc-PoWER), is currently being evaluated by NPs in their first year of oncology practice who are paired with an on-site mentor (a physician, NP, or physician assistant).
The program’s 5 modules include: (1) the new patient visit; (2) presenting a patient with cancer; (3) cancer visits across the care continuum; (4) palliative and hospice care; and (5) self-care and professional development.
Over a 4- to 6-month period, 30 NPs new to practice and 22 oncology mentors finished the course. Participants were then asked to complete a course evaluation to determine the degree to which the learning objectives were met.
For mentors, said Dr Rosenzweig, the program offers more than just a rehash of familiar knowledge; rather, it is a structured and organized way of mentoring an NP new to oncology.
“The program is valuable in that it helps to map out the thought processes for a new NP when encountering patients at different stages of the disease process,” one mentor observed.
“It’s been very helpful [in providing] a framework for orientation for the new NPs we hire,” another physician reported.
The next step for Dr Rosenzweig and colleagues is to offer specific cancer education to NPs in primary care settings. With a modified curriculum, she believes, primary care NPs could be educated in the areas of required competencies, including cancer prevention and community wellness, cancer screening, timely referral for cancer diagnosis and treatment, recognition and management of the adverse effects of therapy, end-of-life care, and survivorship issues.—CD
Rosenzweig MQ, Klein S, Connolly M, Hoffman R. Primary care nurse practitioners providing survivorship cancer care. Presented at: Cancer Survivorship Symposium; January 15-16, 2016; San Francisco, CA. Abstract 14.