Systemic anti-cancer therapy: standardising education
For years, educating and training nurses to administer systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT) has been fraught with challenges. Some challenges have arisen from the limited capacity to supervise and assess SACT practice and, at times, nonexistent or limited funding; others have arisen from the rather ad hoc and inconsistent way SACT education and training has been provided.
But as well as challenges there are opportunities. SACT education and training moved on from the days of ‘on the job’ opportunistic learning (the ‘see one, do one, teach one’ concept) with the introduction of the now-extinct ENB N59 course and publication of the Royal College of Nursing's guidelines on the administration of chemotherapy in 1998.
In 2007, when working as a senior lecturer in cancer care, I was fortunate to work with the local cancer network lead chemotherapy nurses to review the university's accredited chemotherapy course that I ran. I was acutely aware that regionally standardised SACT education and training was not provided throughout the UK. Some regions had a local university-accredited course, others had well-established in-house courses that had competence assessment, and some regions had little formal, regular education in place, although they worked to national standards at the time, recommended in the Manual for Cancer Services: Chemotherapy measures (National Cancer Action Team, 2004).
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