Pediatric oncology is a specific evidence based area that shows improvement due to the interventions of Oncology Advanced Practice Nurses. As the number of advanced practice nurses increases in the pediatric oncology field, the potential for advanced research associated with preventing childhood cancer also increases (Pritchard, 2002, 196). While the actual treatment of pediatric oncology patients is the primary responsibility of advanced care nurses, research is also an important aspect of advanced care nurses’ job requirements (Pritchard, 2002, 196).
Advanced care nurses are integral in the treatment of children with cancer but because they also are knowledgeable about childhood cancer they have enormous potential to conduct life saving research (Pritchard, 2002, 196). Further, advanced care nurses who work with dying children are often more motivated to find better prevention and treatment methods and research and education is an important way that the medical field is allowing them to change the outcomes of children with cancer (Pritchard, 2002, 196).
As the role of Oncology Advanced Practice Nurses evolves, pediatric oncology patients continue to receive enhanced care as well as more positive outcomes (Wilson, 2005, 251). The primary responsibility of Oncology Advanced Practice Nurses is to direct and provide patient care to children suffering from cancer (Wilson, 2005, 251). However, new job responsibilities allow advanced care nurses to create an in depth picture of each pediatric cancer patient in order to provide the highest level of care possible while also improving overall outcomes.
For example, advanced care nurses are also responsible for negotiating the health care delivery system in order to ensure that pediatric oncology patients get the services and treatments they need. In addition, advanced care nurses also monitor and ensure the quality of health care that each patient receives. Finally, advanced care nurses also work closely with the families of children suffering from cancer in order to provide family centered care that helps enhance overall treatment (Wilson, 2005, 251).
These types of in depth interventions allow Oncology Advanced Practice Nurses to focus on the needs of each individual pediatric oncology patient in order to deliver the appropriate treatment and improve the chances of a favorable outcome. Application of Evidence Based Areas and/or Research Practice to the Current APN Role The primary challenge that Oncology Advanced Practice Nurses face when treating pediatric patients is the implementation of collaborative care that enhances treatment while also improving overall outcome (Brophy, Schmus & Balistreri, 2004, 10).
Staff nurses often face enormous challenges when treating pediatric oncology patients because they do not have the level of education necessary to provide treatment as new research is discovered through clinical trials (Brophy, et al, 2004, 10). Therefore, one challenge to advanced care nurses is providing this type of education to staff in order to continue to offer the highest level of care possible (Brophy, et al, 2004, 10).
Advanced care nurses can provide the new skills necessary to treat each individual pediatric oncology patient based on their complete understanding of new research that is constantly emerging with regard to pediatric oncology diagnosis and treatment (Brophy, et al, 2004, 10). This provides a challenge for advanced care nurses because it increases their already heavy workload by requiring them to train staff how to treat patients using the newest innovations in care. Additionally, it is challenging to ensure that each staff nurse receives adequate education that will allow them to provide treatment without the necessity of a supervisor.
However, advanced care nurses are in a unique position to offer this type of education based on their practice in the pediatric oncology field (Brophy, et al, 2004, 10). As the Oncology Advanced Practice Nursing job changes, there are challenges that arise due to the increased job responsibility that these nurses have. While increased responsibilities have the potential to enhance pediatric patient care and improve overall outcomes, they also have the potential to present enormous challenges to advanced care nurses as they attempt to find new ways to improve treatment and outcomes.
Advanced practice nurses have the opportunity to engage in valuable research that could improve the way pediatric oncology patients are treated but it is extremely challenging to receive the types of funds necessary to conduct such research (Boklan, 2006, 1905). There are far fewer cases of new cancer diagnoses in children than in adults so funds are allocated accordingly leaving pediatric oncology relatively far down in the list in receiving research funds (Boklan, 2006, 1905).
Similarly, advanced care nurses face challenges when learning to treat and actually treating pediatric oncology patients because childhood cancers present differently and act differently than adult cancers (Boklan, 2006, 1905). Therefore, research conducted associated with adult cancer has little use to the field of pediatric oncology (Boklan, 2006, 1905). As a result, advanced care nurses in charge of educating others in pediatric oncology best practices face challenges in educating them according to valid research specifically conducted with regards to pediatric oncology.
Finally, as advanced care nurses work closely with families when treating children with cancer, it is often challenging to get the type of consent necessary to try new treatment methods that may improve the overall outcome (Boklan, 2006, 1905). Often, family members are reluctant to try new things because they want so desperately for their child to be cured that they are only willing to try treatments that have been successful in the past. These challenges, coupled with a growing job description, make the prospective career as an advanced practice nurse somewhat overwhelming.
However, current literature is applicable to the future of advanced practice nursing because it provides evidence that the role of the advanced practice nurse, while increasing in responsibility, has the potential to truly enhance treatment options as well as improve overall outcome. This research also points to the necessity of a strong master’s or doctorate level education in the field on Oncology Advanced Practice Nursing. Treating cancer is a challenging task because there are no guarantees.
The fact that advanced practice nurses are now able to engage in research and education that relates to discovering new treatments and preventative measures will allow future advanced practice nurses to choose a specific oncology focus and conduct research accordingly. Further, increased job responsibilities allow future advanced practice nurses to modify their treatment methods to create a very clear picture of each oncology patient in order to individualize treatment and improve future outcomes.