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Cancer Nurses Developing a Biotherapy Curriculum

Cancer Nurses Developing a Biotherapy Curriculum

SAN FRANCISCO--Clinical specialist nurses from around the country are working together to create a curriculum that will educate other nurses about biotherapies used to treat certain cancers in combination with chemotherapy. The group met at the Oncology Nursing Society meeting to discuss the project.

Sponsored by Chiron Therapeutics, and compiled and produced by GenQuest of San Diego, the curriculum is a multimedia effort that will be distributed to educators in hospitals, clinics, and nursing societies around the country.

"Certainly, biotherapies place new demands on the role of the nurse," said Paula Rieger, cancer detection specialist at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and chairperson of the advisory board helping to create the curriculum. "Nurses have to know how to manage the side effects of these drugs, and how to educate patient and teach them self-care skills."

The curriculum includes an overview of the mechanisms of how biotherapies work, side effects, use in today’s health-care system, and facts about specific biotherapy agents. "This curriculum gives nurses a baseline level of knowledge and shows them the important questions to ask when they’re dealing with a patient on biotherapy," Ms. Rieger said.

Initially, the curriculum will be used primarily to educate instructors or clinical specialists in hospitals and nursing schools. It may also be available for continuing education credit by local nursing societies. Other nurses who may benefit from the curriculum include general practice nurses who may see patients who are receiving biotherapeutic agents.

Since biotherapy is a rapidly developing area of treatment, the new curriculum can help nurses stay abreast. "New drugs are coming on line all the time," said Nancy Moldawer, clinical research nurse at UCLA and a member of the advisory board. "The information in this curriculum will enhance nurses’ work with oncologists," she said.

The curriculum should be ready for distribution in September, said Mary Callaghan, a clinical program supervisor at GenQuest."We want the curriculum to provide nurses with a basic foundation in biotherapy which they can build upon to increase their knowledge," she said. For more information about the curriculum, call 1-800-944-0604.

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