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Assessing Cancer-Related Learning Needs of Texas Nurses

Volker, Deborah L. PhD, RN, AOCN; Watson, Joni MSN, MBA, RN, OCN; Becker, Heather PhD; Scott, Tiffany MSN, RN

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e31820641be
Articles: Online Only

Background: Given the growing number of cancer survivors, all nurses must have current knowledge and skills to provide competent cancer care. Accordingly, access to evidence-based educational opportunities designed to promote ongoing competency must be ensured. Program offerings and services should be based on a systematic and periodic approach to provide appropriate programming that meets learners' self-identified needs, priorities, and self-reported gaps in existing knowledge and practice.

Objective: The purpose of this article was to report the process and findings of a statewide needs assessment of cancer-related needs of nurses across all practice settings.

Methods: A convenience sample of licensed nurses was recruited from throughout Texas to complete a learning needs assessment instrument.

Results: Five hundred twenty-one nurses completed the survey. Results revealed several priority areas for educational programming, including clinical care topics, survivorship issues, tobacco cessation strategies, and clinical trials. Although results varied somewhat between oncology and nononcology nurses, both groups cited time constraints as the biggest barrier to integrating cancer-related knowledge and skills into their practice.

Conclusion: Findings from the survey can be used to direct program priorities and approaches for ongoing educational services that promote delivery of competent cancer care.

Implications for Practice: This approach to a cancer-focused needs assessment serves as an exemplar for nursing education leaders who are charged with developing and delivering cancer-specific programming for nurses.

Background: Given the growing number of cancer survivors, all nurses must have current knowledge and skills to provide competent cancer care. Accordingly, access to evidence-based educational opportunities designed to promote ongoing competency must be ensured. Program offerings and services should be based on a systematic and periodic approach to provide appropriate programming that meets learners' self-identified needs, priorities, and self-reported gaps in existing knowledge and practice. Objective: The purpose of this article was to report the process and findings of a statewide needs assessment of cancer-related needs of nurses across all practice settings. Methods: A convenience sample of licensed nurses was recruited from throughout Texas to complete a learning needs assessment instrument. Results: Five hundred twenty-one nurses completed the survey. Results revealed several priority areas for educational programming, including clinical care topics, survivorship issues, tobacco cessation strategies, and clinical trials. Although results varied somewhat between oncology and nononcology nurses, both groups cited time constraints as the biggest barrier to integrating cancer-related knowledge and skills into their practice. Conclusion: Findings from the survey can be used to direct program priorities and approaches for ongoing educational services that promote delivery of competent cancer care. Implications for Practice: This approach to a cancer-focused needs assessment serves as an exemplar for nursing education leaders who are charged with developing and delivering cancer-specific programming for nurses.

Author Affiliations: University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, (Drs Volker and Becker and Ms Scott), and Nurse Oncology Education Program, Austin, Texas (Ms Watson).

Funding for the study survey was provided by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Tiffany Scott received support from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research with a Minority Research Supplement (R01 NR10360-01, Dr Tracie Harrison, PI).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Deborah L. Volker, PhD, RN, AOCN, University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, 1700 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701 (dvolker@mail.nur.utexas.edu).

Accepted for publication November 9, 2010.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.