A creative approach to teaching safe chemotherapy handling techniques delivers the message

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NEW ORLEANS—An interactive educational event demonstrated the importance of safe-handling technique of chemotherapy drugs in an approach that bridged generational learning differences, according to research presented at the Oncology Nursing Society 37th Annual Congress.

Despite annual online programs and testing, the nursing staff's safe-handling techniques of chemotherapy were inconsistent at an inpatient oncology unit. In addition, generational differences and age-related biases in learning created gaps in the effectiveness of the current educational program. A more creative approach to nurse education was needed.

Elizabeth Roth, RN, BSN, OCN®, and Lisa Smith, RN, MS, AOCN®, at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, developed an interactive safe-handling event as an educational program on the importance of safe-handling technique. This event used transformational learning as its conceptual model. Transformational learning considers the differences in identity and learning styles between generations. The educational goals of the event included raising awareness of potential surface contamination; reviewing safe handling of linens, bed pans, urinals, chux, gowns, and body fluids; and improving use of personal protective equipment.

The event was held in a room that featured black lighting and “Twilight” themed music, snacks, and décor. Attendees completed a brief quiz when they entered the event. Interactive learning stations were set up with glow lotion and powder that highlighted where potential spills could be lurking in the environment including on the floor, on nurses' hands, and on the equipment. An instructor was available at each station to give immediate feedback, assess attendees' knowledge level, and provide appropriate education. Participants had an opportunity to revise their answers on the entrance quiz as a measure of their knowledge outcome when they exited the room.

The station that simulated poor safe-handling technique as a glow on the front of an IV pump received the most comments. “The event was held over 2 days, and it was attended by every oncology nurse,” reported Roth. Overall, the interactive themed approach generated many positive comments from all participants. Roth concluded that varied approaches to unit education that accommodate generational differences and learning styles are more effective. “It was a lot of fun for everyone,” she said in her presentation at ONS.

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