Nursing

PV QA 4 - Poster Viewing Q&A 4

TU_39_3705 - Assessing Nursing Knowledge in Radiation Therapy

Tuesday, October 23
2:45 PM - 4:15 PM
Location: Innovation Hub, Exhibit Hall 3

Assessing Nursing Knowledge in Radiation Therapy
A. Lowther, G. Manukian, C. Tapper, and D. Clancy; Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA

Purpose/Objective(s): Properly educating patients in radiation therapy requires competent, knowledgeable nurses. While nurses complete educational programs consisting of traditional, core didactic courses, few have received formal training in radiation therapy. Consequently, nurses who choose to specialize in oncology, and specifically radiation-oncology, rely primarily on on-the-job training as their sole source of education. As this is usually contingent on brief interactions with other nurses, physicians and clinical staff, we sought to create a formalized nursing education program within our department.

Materials/Methods: In order to tailor the program to address areas of weakness, surveys were distributed to our nursing staff across four radiation oncology locations within our institution. The survey consisted of 8 questions assessing the level of comfort in educating patients on various aspects of radiation therapy (RT) including CT-simulation, cost of treatment, hospice care, support services, radiation techniques, and disease site specific information. Answers were set to a 5 point scale ranging from “not comfortable at all” to “very comfortable.” All responses were collected anonymously.

Results: The survey response rate was 100% (n=15). The level of experience among the respondents varied from three to twenty years. When asked their level of comfort educating patients on the RT process, 73% indicated that they were very comfortable or comfortable, while over 27% were less than comfortable (including not comfortable at all). We asked their comfort level in educating patients on the CT simulation process and 43% stated that they were somewhat or not comfortable. Over 20% indicated they were not comfortable at all on radiation therapy techniques and 20% were not comfortable discussing hospice care. Interestingly, when asked their level of knowledge on site specific education for their patients, most were comfortable with all listed sites with the exception of a few that were not too comfortable with brain (2), gynecology (1) and colorectal (4). Most nurses (93%) agreed they would benefit from physician led educational sessions and while 87% agreed a formal patient education program would improve patient satisfaction and compliance.

Conclusion: While the majority of the nurses in the department of RO felt comfortable educating patients on the details of RT and addressing site specific questions, the self-assessment survey revealed a dearth of knowledge in the cost of RT and available support services. To address these areas, we have initiated monthly physician led educational sessions that provide nursing staff with 1 contact hour per session and focus on radiation and cancer patients. We plan to continue these lectures and mandate future nurses attend in order to maintain and standardize the knowledge of our nursing staff.

Author Disclosure: A. Lowther: None. G. Manukian: None. C. Tapper: None.

Anne Lowther

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