In Tanzania, only 10 percent of patients who have cancer make it to the Ocean Road Cancer Institute -- the sole cancer center serving the country’s 38 million people. And most are in the last stages of the disease. What has made these circumstances worse was that the country had no formal oncology nurse training program.
But, starting in February 2011, that all changed. Thanks to a collaboration between OncoLink and HUP’s Nursing Development and Education, the oncology nursing review course offered at HUP -– including videotaped lectures and slide presentations -– was made available to ORCI nurses on CDs, along with three computers. The program, tailored to meet their needs, included presentations on treatment modalities, pain management, oncologic emergencies, supportive care, and end-of-life care. Quizzes taken after each of the 20 modules were sent back to Penn for analysis.
Nearly two years after their first visit to Tanzania, and more than a year after the program roll-out, the OncoLink team returned to formally present the 20 ORCI nurses with a certificate of completion. The changes made to the level of patient care – as well as to the hospital itself -- were staggering.
“In less than a year, ORCI had completed construction on a new building, implemented new nursing care standards, installed a chemotherapy prep hood, and began the establishment of treatment guidelines,” said Hampshire. “The entire team at ORCI clearly made improving patient care a top priority in the last year, and we couldn’t be more impressed.”
“The doctors and nurses who greeted us at ORCI were incredibly grateful for the training they received through the program,” Metz said. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with ORCI, and expanding the program so it will be broadly helpful to other African institutions.”
To learn more about OncoLink, Penn Medicine's site to help cancer patients, families, health-care professionals and the general public get accurate cancer-related information, go to oncolink.org.
Photo caption, above right: Maggie Hampshire (front row, center) poses with the first Tanzanian graduates from the oncology nursing review course.