The new Oncology Nursing Research Centre of Excellence at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is co-led by, (L to R), Anet Julius, Director of Professional Practice at PM, Dr. Samantha Mayo, RBC Financial Chair in Oncology Nursing Research, and clinical nurse specialist Lara Cooper.

UHN's oncology nurses are known for their clinical expertise, leadership in education, professional development and emotional depth in caring for patients and families affected by cancer.

But they are also prolific in another area: research.

The newly opened Oncology Nursing Research Centre of Excellence (ONRCE) at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is Canada's first centre devoted to supporting oncology nursing research.

The centre aims to advance the development of oncology nursing by supporting nurse scientists to conduct rigorous, externally-funded cancer research that enhances the quality of care across every step of the cancer journey, from diagnosis and treatment, to follow-up and end-of-life care.

"Our vision is to improve patient and family outcomes and enhance the experience of those living with cancer by supporting oncology nursing research and scholarly activities," says Anet Julius, Director of Professional Practice at PM. She co-leads the centre with Dr. Samantha Mayo, RBC Financial Chair in Oncology Nursing Research, and clinical nurse specialist Lara Cooper.

The centre's newly released report found that between 2020-2022 oncology nurses at UHN had 140 publications, presented 131 conference abstracts, received 30 grants and gave 87 oral presentations around the globe.

Among the highlights is a guide on how to talk about dying, death and loss, evidence showing that proactively calling older adults with cancer after chemotherapy reduces unplanned health care visits, and the importance of nutrition in supporting patients with pancreatic cancer.

The centre is already driving these goals forward with activities such as the Canadian Oncology Nurse Investigator Research Rounds, a peer mentorship group, and a series of research skills workshops.

Some highlights from the report include:

Jocelyn Brown is a clinical nurse specialist who has worked on the Palliative Care Team for 14 years. She recently published a book, Love & Loss, illustrated by artist Ramune Luminaire about an innovative approach to education in palliative care.

"It is...a guide for how we talk about dying, death, loss, grief and finding one's way," says Jocelyn.

This book can be used to open up a conversation on the process of palliative care for patients, and health care staff.

Jocelyn describes how she used her relational nursing practice to "... share the strength and resilience that we can access as humans facing challenges, whether as nurses or persons living with cancer".

Rana Jin, a clinical nurse specialist in the Older Adults with Cancer Clinic at the Princess Margaret, has been a leader in oncology nursing research in improving the quality of life of older adults with cancer.

Rana's recent quality improvement project with her clinical team looked at the impact that nurses could have when they called patients after they received systemic treatments. It found when nurses made proactive phone calls to older adults seven to 14 days after they received the treatment, it reduced the number of unplanned visits to health care facilities. The study also found that nurses' phone calls improved older adults' independence when navigating their cancer care, and reduced their side effects.

"I hope this project sheds light on the impact nurses can have on improving older adults experience when it comes to their cancer," says Rana.

Kayla Madsen, a nurse practitioner in the Allogenic Bone Marrow Transplant Program, is the lead author of a paper on acute kidney injury (AKI) in allogeneic transplant patients. Her study found that those who experience AKI in the first 100 days of transplant are more likely to have worse outcomes, including reduced survival and a higher rate of mortality.

The research informs allogeneic clinicians and helps to improve patient survival outcomes, and reduce complications and mortality rates among this population.

"I hope that I can inspire other nurses to pursue this type of research. I want nurses to know that there is a space for us and the knowledge and skills we carry are invaluable," says Kayla.

Gabrielle Eekholf, a registered nurse on the Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, received the 2022 Rising Star Oncology Nursing Award at the Princess Margaret. This award is given to a nurse who has worked in oncology for less than three years and demonstrates excellence in cancer care by contributing to enhancing the oncology experience for patients.

Gabrielle's nursing practice has been grounded in patient-centered care. She provides a holistic nursing approach to those going through allogeneic bone marrow transplants, demonstrating the science and art of oncology nursing.

"I feel so honoured to be nominated by my colleagues at such an early stage in my oncology nursing career," says Gabrielle. "I have found that the more connected I am with my patients, the more I can help them."

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