After being in an oncology nurse practitioner (ONP) position for 18 months, I distributed voluntary surveys among nursing staff and doctors within the organization to examine their perception of the ONP role at Albury Base Hospital.
The three main questions asked were about what the staff found most helpful about the ONP service, the least helpful about the ONP service, and any suggestions on how the ONP service could be more useful to patients. I received a total of 17 responses from nurses and doctors from across all clinical areas, but the majority from staff working in the emergency department.
What staff found most helpful about the ONP service:
100 percent of the respondents answered this question with multiple responses. The most common responses to the least common responses are listed as:
- Knowledge/ resource person /support to staff and patients (72 percent)
- Approachability and friendliness (60 percent)
- Improved pain and palliative management (36 percent)
- Clear outlined planning (36 percent)
- Timely referral and streamlining of oncology patients (30 percent)
- Speed of response (24 percent)
- Able to prescribe medications to oncology patients (24 percent)
- Thorough and patient focussed assessment (18 percent)
- Advocating for oncology patients (6 percent)
- Communication with oncologists (6 percent)
- Community support to oncology patients (6 percent)
What staff found least helpful about the ONP service:
78 percent (13) of the respondents answered this question with N/A, no response, nothing unhelpful, or nothing to suggest. Of the remaining 22 percent (4), the area was left blank.
Suggestions to improve the ONP service:
22 percent of the respondents answered this question with no suggestions. 78 percent answered the following suggestions listed below as the most common to the least common suggestions:
- Oncology education (30 percent)
- Palliative care education (24 percent)
- Referral pathway to ONP Service (12 percent)
- Flyer ONP service for patients and careers in ED (6 percent)
- Provision of pink arm bands in ED (6 percent)
- Provision of patient diary (6 percent)
- More hours of the service (6 percent)
- More PPE for oncology patients in ED (6 percent)
The survey demonstrates the utilization of the ONP as an important resource person in the oncology field. Leadership attributes were also highlighted as important in regard with accessibility, friendliness, and approachability of the ONP.
Many staff members also found that pain management had improved significantly among cancer patients since the implementation of the ONP role. One in four health professionals thought the extended role of the ONP in relation to advanced assessment and prescribing was benefiting patients.
Recommendations for further improvement include ongoing oncology and palliative care education for healthcare staff and the development of a clear referral pathway to the ONP.
How does your facility view the importance of the ONP? Would your cancer program suffer without them?