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Chemotherapy course for nurses now online Chemoadminonline

Oncology nurses in Nova Scotia are using the virtual world to help them provide the highest quality care. Cancer Care Nova Scotia, with support from the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), launched a new online program for the administration of chemotherapy in February 2011.

“The program was developed specifically to accommodate the learning needs of nurses who will be administering chemotherapy,” explains Michele Rogez, an Oncology Practice Consultant with Cancer Care Nova Scotia. “This program can be taken at any time that is convenient for a nurse. In the past, the program was only offered twice a year in a face-to-face environment.”

The online program, which is monitored by a facilitator, can be accessed by any number of participants at any time of the day from work or home. Nurses are provided with a user name and password to gain access and maintain security.

In addition to efficiency, the program ensures consistency, notes Rogez. “It enables nurses to receive consistent chemotherapy education and competency assessment regardless of their practice setting. So, whether it’s a large or small hospital, the quality of administration of chemotherapy is the same.”
 
The new program, which is now accepting its first registrants, is divided into 10 learning units. These cover topics including: the importance of occupational safety; policies and procedures for safely administering  chemotherapy; and prevention and management of side effects for patients, among others. 

“We  estimate it will take nurses up to 18 hours to complete the online program,” says Michele, “and they will have six weeks from the time they register to complete it.” The in-person program, by comparison, ran for three consecutive days and took nurses away from home, away from work and often involved travel and other costs.

The administration of chemotherapy course includes exercises, short quizzes, videos, readings, and web board activities. There is also a final take-home test. “Once the online course work is successfully completed, the nurses will work with a Preceptor in their district to gain further practical experience at their home hospital or a centre close to home,” explains Rogez.

Already nurses have registered for the program and there has been considerable interest from managers who appreciate the convenient access this offers chemo nurses, says Rogez. She notes that the program is also available to previously certified nurses who would like to refresh their knowledge.

In some ways, the online chemotherapy program is a testing ground, she adds. “We’ll evaluate this program and perhaps look at this type of web-based learning for other educational offerings.”

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