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Reflection and problem-based learning may help nurses to care for children with cancer

Preparing children's nurses to provide competent clinical care for children living with and beyond cancer
Paediatric brain tumour

Caring for children living with and beyond cancer is emotionally challenging and is often associated with significant work-related emotional stress. The suitable and appropriate preparation of childrens nurses to provide competent and confident clinical care is, therefore, crucial.

This study examined the perception of qualified nurses, working in either a paediatric oncology shared care unit or principal treatment centre, as to how well their pre-registration education programme prepared them to care for such patients.

The study was undertaken in Oxfordshire, UK, using a qualitative interpretivist approach. A purposive sample of six nurses, three from each area, participated in face-to-face semi-structured interviews, which were recorded and thematic analysis undertaken.

Three key themes were identified. The first related to 'learning in theory and practice. Few

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Caring for children living with and beyond cancer is emotionally challenging and is often associated with significant work-related emotional stress. The suitable and appropriate preparation of children’s nurses to provide competent and confident clinical care is, therefore, crucial.

Paediatric brain tumour
Reflection can help children's nurses overcome concerns when caring for a child living with and beyond cancer
Picture: Science Photo Library

This study examined the perception of qualified nurses, working in either a paediatric oncology shared care unit or principal treatment centre, as to how well their pre-registration education programme prepared them to care for such patients.

The study was undertaken in Oxfordshire, UK, using a qualitative interpretivist approach. A purposive sample of six nurses, three from each area, participated in face-to-face semi-structured interviews, which were recorded and thematic analysis undertaken.

Three key themes were identified. The first related to 'learning in theory and practice’. Few could recall specific cancer content in their course; several commented that they were unlikely to remember theory unless it was applied in practice.

The second theme, ‘care of the child and family’, suggested a partnership model of care was promoted but this came with a source and sense of anxiety if and when they perceived families’ level of expertise exceeded their own.

The third theme, resilience, reflected in part the frightening misconceptions that participants felt before they attended such units as students. It also reflected the ongoing sadness that was felt when bad news was delivered, with an emphasis on considering how to overcome such concerns through the use of measures including reflective practice.


Jestico E, Finlay T (2017) ‘A stressful and frightening experience’? Children’s nurses’ perceived readiness to care for children with cancer following pre-registration nurse education: a qualitative study. Nurse Education Today. 48, 62-66.

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