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Charity seeks to plug prostate cancer nurse training gap with online courses

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Prostate Cancer UK has launched an online learning “platform” for nurses and other health professionals to “bridge a gap” in education provision and improve patient care.

It said “too many” health professionals working in prostate cancer care were finding their paths to career development “blocked” by a lack of education provision and study opportunity.

With limited prostate cancer courses available to train the current workforce, Prostate Cancer UK said it wanted to raise concerns over the future of care for men with the disease.

It cited a survey of around 300 specialist nurses working with prostate cancer patients, conducted for the charity by Plymouth University, London South Bank University and Mouchel.

The survey found 94% of participants had specified an appetite for further career development, but cited limited funding, heavy workloads, and lack of study leave as preventing them from doing so.

The research was completed by 302 specialist nurses from across the UK during June and July 2014.

Their most common job title was clinical nurse specialist and the most common Agenda for Change band was 7. However in Scotland 50% of the respondents stated that they were paid at band 6.

“Those working in prostate cancer are troubled by heavy workloads, lack of time, and limited funding”

Gemma Borwick

Over half the respondents had worked in prostate cancer care for more than 10 years. Few had come into specialist posts from a specific specialist nurse development role.

The charity has launched a new online learning platform to help fill the gap, providing a range of free online courses and webinars to equip nurses with the “necessary tools and information” to expand their expertise and further their careers.

Gemma Borwick, education manager at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Like many health professionals, those working in prostate cancer are troubled by heavy workloads, lack of time, and limited funding, meaning that there are few opportunities for them to expand their knowledge base.

“However, we know that the workforce has an appetite to learn and if we don’t feed their ambition, we run the risk of losing the committed professionals that we desperately need to hold on to,” she added.

Ms Borwick said the new online training tools – which cover introductory topics such as diagnosis to specialist subject areas such as the management of erectile dysfunction – “complemented” the charity’s existing range of face-to-face courses, the online courses.

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