A curriculum being implemented at City of Hope (Duarte, California) and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC; New York, New York) will train nurses working with cancer patients who are transitioning from active treatment to survivorship care. The initiative is being funded by a five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) worth more than $1.4 million.

A total of 200 nurses from all cancer health care settings—including private practices, small community clinics, and more comprehensive NCI-designated facilities—will be selected to participate. The training will be delivered in annual workshops lasting 2.5 days each. The spring workshop will be held April 12-14, 2012, in Monrovia, California (application due date: February 17, 2012); the second will be held in the fall in New York. Each workshop will be limited to 50 attendees. All professional registered nurses who provide care to cancer survivors are encouraged to apply. (For application information as well as other program details, visit www.cityofhope.org/education/health-professional-education/nursing-education/survivorship-training/Pages/default.aspx).      

The initiative’s principal investigators are Marcia Grant, RN, DNSc, a professor and the director of the Division of Nursing Research at City of Hope; and Mary McCabe, RN, MN, the director of the Cancer Survivorship Program at MSKCC.

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The workshops will focus on preventing new cancers through healthy lifestyles; determining when survivors should undergo colonoscopy, mammography, and other screening tests; following up on potential short- and long-term side effects; and communicating with patients. The goal of the training is to empower nurses to identify survivors’ needs and help these patients as well as their families to achieve the best possible quality of life posttreatment. According to the NCI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 12 million cancer survivors currently live in the United States, and that number is expected to rise, making better survivorship care crucial.

“Nurses will be at the center of this care,” noted Grant in a statement issued by MSKCC to announce the grant. “They want and need education to give survivors the tools for a full life after cancer.”

The program is designed to address the resources available in various practice settings, added McCabe. “A larger center will have more of an infrastructure enabling nurses to follow patients in a data-based environment,” she pointed out, “but the average community oncologist doesn’t have those resources, so communicating the treatment summary and plan of care will be critical to have nurses and doctors go over what they should do for follow-up care.”

At the end of the course, the participants should be equipped to discuss the issues and state-of-the-science in cancer survivorship; identify individual goals for improved care for cancer survivors in the nurse’s setting; and develop outcome measures to document survivorship care provided in the nurse’s setting.