5 Ways to Promote Better Cancer Care

Check out this infographic exploring 5 ways oncology nurses can do their part to improve cancer care for their patients.

The world of cancer care is constantly evolving — putting oncology nurses in a prime position to improve cancer care for their patients. Here are 5 meaningful ways to promote better care on multiple levels.

  • Listen. Patients often have many concerns and questions, especially when they are newly diagnosed or starting a new treatment regimen. Take a minute to listen to their concerns. After going through her own breast cancer experience, Patricia Jakel, RN, MN, AOCN, now offers this piece of advice for other oncology nurses: Do not stand over your patients. Sit down next to them when hearing about their fears and worries and having important conversations.
  • Talk. As new treatments seem to continuously enter the cancer space, it is vital that oncology nurses talk to patients and are clear on what kind of adverse events they can expect. Paula Anastasia, MN, RN, CNS, AOCN, said that these conversations between nurses and patients are key — especially in the ovarian cancer space. “I let patients know that I can help them have good days, but I also need them to tell me when they’re not having a good day,” she said.
  • Clinical Trials. Unfortunately, many patients have misconceptions about clinical trials — for example, that they will be given a placebo and not treated at all, or that they will receive sub-optimal care. Oncology nurses should work to dispel these myths, while opening a conversation with patients and their families about the benefits of clinical trials that they may qualify for. Trials – which happen at large research centers and in the community setting — not only offer excellent care, but also give patients the opportunity to be a part of major scientific advances. “It should be patient-centered, but it takes all of us,” said Rose Gerber, the director of patient advocacy and education at COA.
  • Spark Policy Change. The National Nurse Act of 2019 was recently introduced to Congress, with cancer being one of the major conditions mentioned throughout the bill. To support such legislation, nurses can reach out to their senators and representatives — either individually, or they can come together with a group of nurses and colleagues to show their support. Nurses can also advocate for change on a more local level, by vocalizing concerns to their area politicians or even key decisionmakers within their healthcare institutions.
  • Discuss Finances. Financial toxicity is a major issue in cancer care, and healthcare practitioners can no longer avoid these conversations, according to Ellen Miller Sonet, MBA, JD, the chief strategy officer of CancerCare. The good news is that there are many programs available that can help patients with co-pays, transportation costs, and other financial situations. However, not many patients are aware of these programs, putting oncology nurses in a prime position to give the information to patients and their families.