Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has welcomed the first cohort of locally-trained Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS), who will work alongside multi-disciplinary cancer teams to provide individualized care and dedicated support to cancer patients at the National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR).
The six newly-trained CNSs have recently graduated from a master’s in nursing degree program, focused on oncology nursing. The program, which was jointly developed in partnership by HMC and the University of Calgary in Qatar (UCQ), aims to equip nurses with the required skills to contribute to evidence-based, high quality cancer care. The new CNSs will be supporting patients with gastro-intestinal (GI) or breast cancer and also those with pain and palliative care needs.
The cancer journey is complex and often confusing, especially for newly affected patients. It involves care interventions from various multi-site professionals such as oncologists, surgeons and counselors. However, the CNSs provide and reinforce relevant information and appropriate liaison with other professionals to improve the cancer care process for patients.
Coupled with the support that nurses provide to patients, clinical nurse specialists are more highly trained to become experts at diagnosing and treating illnesses in their area of expertise. Along with providing patients and families support, they also are experts in nurse management and administration. Nurses can also benefit from the CNS’s expertise and seek their guidance to improve patients’ health outcomes and the overall efficiency in the hospital setting. CNSs also continually engage in high-quality research, looking at new evidence-based treatments and interventions
Medical Director for the NCCCR and Chairman of Cancer Services at HMC, Professor Alexander Knuth, noted: “The importance of the role of the CNS was highlighted in the National Cancer Strategy along with a recommendation that all patients with a cancer diagnosis have access to a clinical nurse specialist. HMC has since guided all efforts to cultivate a team of Qatar-trained, highly-specialized clinical nurses who will use their skills and expertise in cancer care to provide technical and emotional support, coordinate care services and advise patients on clinical as well as practical issues so each of our patients receives the safest, most effective and compassionate care.”
Assistant Executive Director for Nursing at NCCCR, Ms. Catherine Gillespie commented: “We have identified through feedback those patients who are supported by a CNS, report higher levels of satisfaction with their care. The introduction of our first master’s graduate CNS group is the first step to developing a locally trained specialist nursing workforce in Qatar. These CNSs, who are well-versed in Arabic as well as English, will complement the existing and long established team of specialist nurses at NCCCR to increase capacity and see more patients, ensuring they receive the best care always.”
In addition to the eight CNSs who have been offering specialist care to cancer patients within different areas across HMC, the organization now has a total of 14 fully-qualified nurse specialists to cater to the needs of cancer patients. Additionally, two new CNSs are expected to graduate by mid of this year, and 12 more are currently receiving training at the UCQ.
Mashael Abdulla Jassim is the first Qatari national to have graduated from the specialized master’s program and is ready to lead the way in this relatively new field for the country. “I chose to become a CNS because it has been my passion to work more closely with patients, rather than working on an administrative level. I believe that a true nurse will have a lasting, positive impact when she understands the patient’s needs - through effective communication and one-on-one counseling. As a CNS, I feel honored that I can provide this support to cancer patients and their families,” she said.
“My role is very important in that it helps people with cancer to be in an informed position and to feel supported, which in turn increases their autonomy within the realm of their medical care. It is a key step in empowering patients as they feel they are being heard and they have a voice,” Ms. Jassim added.