Preparation for cancer care: perceptions of newly qualified health care professionals

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Copp, Gina ; Caldwell, Kay ; Atwal, Anita ; Brett-Richards, Madeline ; Coleman, Kate (2007)

The present paper is derived from a larger survey which examined the perceptions of recently qualified health care professionals’ experience on evidence-based practice, team working and cancer care. This study reports solely on the findings relating to cancer care. The perceptions of recently qualified professionals in relation to their initial educational input on issues such as confidence, anxiety, communication skills and practice in cancer care as well as adequacy of support, professional supervision and use of reflection were gathered using a cross-sectional postal survey design. A total of 50 graduates from each professional category in nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and social work were sampled yielding a total sample of 200. Eighty-five questionnaires were returned yielding a response rate of 43%. Twenty-eight (33%) respondents stated that they were currently involved in working with people with cancer. These were as follows: 5 nurses, 8 physiotherapists, 9 occupational therapists and 6 social workers. Despite the low response rate, the findings suggest that health care professionals’ educational input and experiences of working with people with cancer were overall positive; for example, in the respondents’ confidence, communication skills, decrease in anxiety and application of knowledge gained in classroom to professional practice. Moreover, most respondents learnt about caring for cancer patients through practice rather than classroom teaching. A high percentage (i.e. 64%;18) across all groups felt supported when caring for people with cancer and reported receiving professional supervision as well as being able to actively reflect on their practice. The implications for education and practice were discussed particularly as there have been few studies conducted in relation to the specific needs and collaborative learning of these health care professional groups.
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