«These changes promise to bring a revolution in the nursing in the coming years»
In breast care, a discipline that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of breast pathologies, oncology nurses play a central role. In this interview, Marisa Beltramo, Coordinator of the Reception Service Centre at the Biella Hospital, and Maria Teresa Rinarellli, Coordinator of the Study Group of Nurses of the Oncological Network, share their experience and vision on the role of oncology nurses in the evolution of care in oncology, theme of the eighth “Rete Oncologica” congress entitled “A new challenge: the evolution of care in oncology between complexity and continuity”.
Oncological pathologies become chronic
«Oncological disease is now considered a chronic pathology – says Beltramo – so patients suffering from these pathologies require long-term care. The introduction of immunotherapy has made possible a follow-up of several years, maintaining a good quality of life for patients».
However, this has led to an increasing complexity due to the chronic nature and the need for continuity of care between hospital and territory. «Cancer patients are often older and have the typical needs of chronic patients – Beltramo gets to the point – so the oncological pathology is added to other chronic diseases, necessitating the creation of a network between territorial garrisons and hospital structure».
In such a complex landscape, the role of nurse becomes essential. As the population ages, the legislation also requires a revision, with the establishment of roles that didn’t exist until some time ago, such as family and community nurses.
«I can imagine that in the next ten years there will be a revolution in the nursing field precisely to face this challenge and respond to the needs of the changing society», continues Beltramo. However, it’s not just flowers and romance, and there is a high level of disaffection towards the profession, as Beltramo states: «All this is bringing a deep reflection in the Federation of Orders of the Nursing Profession, on what could be possible future of the nurse to make people fall in love with this profession again» including changes to the university path to make it more stimulating and offer greater career opportunities.
Not only specialisation, but also education
To deepen the nursing profession, we enter the specific Breast Units: «The breast care units are multidisciplinary and involve various professionals, including breast surgeons, radiologists, medical oncologists, radiation therapists, plastic surgeons and data managers – as Rinarelli explains – Cancer nurses act as a link between these professionals, ensuring effective care coordination. They possess specialised skills that include in-depth knowledge of breast disease and the ability to educate patients about their condition and treatment options».
Oncology nursing is constantly evolving to adapt to the increasing needs of patients. «New training models are being considered, including generalist nurses and advanced practice nurses with advanced clinical skills – continues Beltramo – These changes aim to fill the shortage of staff and offer more personalised care to patients».
Nurses for the network, the network for the nurses
The network is especially important in the area of nursing cancer. The nurses of the cancer network share common values, including the quality of communication, patient care, dialogue, solidarity, dignity, sustainability and training. «Networking means putting the patient at the centre of the treatment path, involving a multiprofessional team – continues Rinarelli – The oncology network promotes the sharing of experiences and the search for solutions to face the daily challenges in patient care». Studies show that the presence of nurses in senology significantly improves the course of the disease and the quality of life for patients. Nurses provide empathic support, attentive listening and relevant information to patients and their families. This trust-based relationship is fundamental to ensure a complete and high-quality care. Breast units, thanks to the multidisciplinary approach, improve the quality of life for patients, addressing not only the physical but also the social and psychological aspects of the disease. «Nurses in breast care act as a point of reference for patients, providing them with constant support at every stage of the care process», Rinarelli emphasised.
The evolution of nursing to address future challenges
Oncology nursing is undergoing a phase of reform to adapt to the needs of patients and the new realities of healthcare. «The goal is to make the nursing profession more attractive and competent, ensuring high-quality care for oncology patients. – remarks Beltramo – The changes promise to bring a revolution in nursing in the coming years».
In conclusion, nurses in particular play an essential role in breast care and cancer wards, contributing significantly to the care and well-being of patients. «Multidisciplinarity and the network are fundamental to guarantee a complete and quality care – Rinarelli closes – while the evolution of nursing aims to prepare nurses for future challenges in the field of oncology»