Prostate cancer charity publishes nurse career framework

A new professional framework for specialist prostate cancer nurses has been published, to try and attract and retain more nurses in the specialism.

The professional development framework for specialist prostate cancer nurses, published this month by Prostate Cancer UK, sets out the knowledge and training required for nurses to join and progress through the field.

The document was developed by prostate cancer nurses, researchers and men with lived experience of the condition and was authored by nursing workforce expert, Professor Alison Leary.

It comes as Prostate Cancer UK has warned that the future of specialist prostate cancer nursing is becoming unstable, due to an ageing workforce.

A study commissioned in 2014 by the charity found that 49% of nurses working within urology were due to leave or retire in the next 10 years.

This has prompted fresh calls for decision makers to plan how they will recruit and retain the next generation of nurses for prostate cancer care.

“We know from evidence that trained clinical nurse specialists are critical to ensuring a man navigates prostate cancer well”

Chiara de Biase

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Prostate Cancer Quality Standard, all people with prostate cancer should be able to have discussions with a named nurse specialist, as they are the key point of contact for patients.

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The institute said that specialist prostate cancer nurses give patients information about treatment options and support them to make decisions about their care.

This can be particularly important immediately after diagnosis or when difficult choices about treatment need to be made.

However, Prostate Cancer UK has this month warned that, while the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is rising, the number of specialist prostate cancer nurses is declining.

The charity wants every person with prostate cancer to have access to a named clinical nurse specialist, which means more nurses need to be attracted into the specialism.

The new framework maps careers from support worker all the way to clinical nurse specialist and advanced nurse practitioner.

It includes information such as the training a nurse will need for specific job roles, making a case for promotion, how to speak with managers and other priorities and goals for career progression.

It can also be used by line managers, employers and policymakers to understand in more detail the number of nurses required to meet the needs of the prostate cancer population and how they can be best supported.

Chiara de Biase, director of support and influencing at Prostate Cancer UK, said that establishing an agreed framework for the professional requirements of prostate cancer nursing would “help to make the career path for junior nurses more transparent and accessible while reducing variation in services across regions”.

She added: “We know from evidence that trained clinical nurse specialists are critical to ensuring a man navigates prostate cancer well.

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“The clinical expertise, and the practical and emotional support they provide, is essential to him.

“Alarmingly, the specialist nurse workforce is declining in the UK – particularly in prostate cancer care and urology.

“We urgently need to create more opportunities to enter the nursing profession, and a clear roadmap with which nurses can develop specialisms and progress their careers.”

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