LOMA LINDA – Loma Linda University Cancer Center is a recipient of the 2017 ACCC Innovator Award, presented by the Association of Community Cancer Centers, for their innovative program,” A Perfect Fit: Mentoring Experienced RNs to Meet Oncology Clinic Demand.”
The Innovator Awards recognize members that exhibit forward-thinking and pioneering programs that improve access, quality and cost effectiveness of cancer care delivery.
The LLU Cancer Center created its program to encourage career development and specialization in oncology as an effective alternative to minimize staffing shortages.
During the ACCC 34th Oncology Conference held Oct. 18-20 in Nashville, Tennessee, registered nurses Lexine Thall, director of patient care at LLU Cancer Center, and Kristina Chase, supervisor of patient care at Loma Linda University Health Beaumont-Banning, accepted the award on the center’s behalf.
While in Nashville, Tennessee, Thall and Chase had the opportunity to share with various health care organizations how they overcame staffing shortages by thinking “outside the box.”
“Our aim was to provide a mentorship program in conjunction with vetted education tools to develop these RNs professionally and alleviate our staffing crisis,” Thall said.
The pilot program launched in 2014 following an analysis of appointment types and RN skill levels needed for each visit type. The results showed that 40 percent of the Cancer Center’s supportive care therapies, such as hydration and blood transfusions, did not require an RN with chemotherapy skills and oncology experience. The information offered a unique opportunity to fill RN vacancies with experienced non-oncology nurses and create a pathway for RNs to obtain their chemotherapy biotherapy certificate from the Oncology Nursing Society or Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation.
“It has given many nurses an opportunity to gain experience in a specialty area for which many employers may not be willing to bear the educational costs,” Thall said.
Through the mentorship program, 100 percent of participants have attained this certification. Additionally, 90 percent of the participants attaining their provider card have remained with the organization.