Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

Learning Strategies to best implement a Paediatric Palliative Care Education Program for paediatric haematology oncology nurses on an inpatient unit.

Siobhan McEwen
McMaster Children’s Hospital

Despite the rapid advancement in childhood cancer treatment, mortality rates related to this disease still remains around 20%, according to cancer care Ontario (2011). Nurses caring for these children require a unique set of knowledge and skills. Close to 65% of the nurses on 3Y, the pediatric hematology oncology inpatient unit, have less than 5 years clinical nursing experience. When asked, 70% of the nurses on 3Y feel unprepared to care for a pediatric palliative patient and at McMaster Children’s Hospital there was no formal pediatric palliative care education for nurses. The education standard by APHON states (2007), “The pediatric oncology nurse demonstrates commitment to lifelong learning by participating in ongoing educational activities (formal or independent) to expand knowledge, to enhance role performance, and to increase knowledge of professional issues” (pg. 20). APHON also has a set of documented standards that support the need for end-of-life education for pediatric palliative nurses. It is because of all of these important documented reasons, why I addressed pediatric palliative care education for the nurses in this fellowship opportunity.

I started my ACFP on May 5th, feeling a little out of my element after being out of school for many years. I was very nervous at taking on this enormous project in a short time, but it turned out to be a breath of fresh air and I did it! The focus of my fellowship experience was to learn about pediatric palliative care principles and adult learning. I was very well supported by all of experts at McMaster Children’s Hospital in pediatric palliative care. My primary mentor guided me through my adult learning goals and before long I had developed a pediatric palliative care education program and was ready to facilitate my first workshop.

During my fellowship experience I was able to accomplish my learning goal to enhance my knowledge and skills required for the implementation of a pediatric palliative care education program for pediatric hematology oncology nurses. In order to accomplish this I was able to enhance my knowledge in paediatric palliative care principles, adult teaching/learning principles and gain an understanding in education program development. I was able to keep on track by booking weekly meetings with both of my mentors and my clinical manager. Being knowledgeable and confident in clinical practice are the important components to nursing a patient at end-of-life, as addressed and supported by the RNAO Best Practice Clinical Practice Guideline End-of-Life Care During the Last Days and Hours (2011), “Education informed by the best available evidence is one component necessary for quality end-of-life care. The process of translating knowledge and skills into the practice environment is challenging and requires consideration of the context of care and the knowledge content” (pg. 50).

This experience has left me with a deeper love for the profession of nursing. I am proud of myself for all that I have accomplished and very thankful to the RNAO for this empowering opportunity.

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