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Nursing Opportunities

At the BC Cancer Agency, registered nurses play an essential role in the care, treatment and support of people with cancer within our province.
About nursing here

Using a patient-centered approach, our nurses work collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team to provide and maintain the highest standards of care. They also have an important role contributing to research and the translation of knowledge into practice. 

Registered nurses care for patients who access services at the BC Cancer Agency through assessment, education and interventions related to treatment (including identifying risk factors and minimizing side effects) and related to the bio-psychosocial management of cancer. The support and information provided by oncology nurses extends to families and the community. 

Oncology registered nurses are respected and integral members of the cancer care team. To support the provision of excellent care by registered nurses, the BC Cancer Agency provides oncology nurses with orientation, continuing education opportunities, ongoing professional development, clinical support and certification programs. We are continuously searching to recruit dedicated nursing professionals to join our dynamic health care team. 

"What an amazing experience!  The staff at the BC Cancer Agency have been unbelievingly welcoming and supportive teachers.  Not only was I invited into the clinic as a part of the team, I was able to shadow a variety of skilled specialists, observe and assist in semi-surgical procedures, learn about outpatient nursing and build an incredible wealth of oncology nursing knowledge.  My time with the BCCA has been wildly rewarding"

--Rosalie K., fourth-year UVic nursing student                                         
 
 

 

Our opportunities

The BC Cancer Agency is committed to supporting the development of oncology nurses and nursing students with education opportunities at each of the six centres. We believe in the value of learning and its relationship to competency and professional development. Therefore, it is important that we promote learning opportunities for the nursing professionals at all stages of their career.

As multi-disciplinary collaboration is essential to comprehensive cancer care, students will have the opportunity to work with a variety of disciplines. This includes dieticians, pharmacists, physicians, physiotherapists, patient and family counselors, dentists, radiation therapists, patient care aids and respiratory therapists. 

While at the BC Cancer Agency, students will have the opportunity to develop: 

  • knowledge of cancer and the illness experience
  • knowledge of various treatment modalities
  • knowledge of pain and symptom management
  • knowledge and skills related to nursing care and assessment
  • interpersonal skills related to working with patients, families and the healthcare team
  • skills related to patient education design and/or delivery
  • an understanding of professional nursing practice
  • an understanding of evidence-informed practice

Our principles 

There are four fundamental principles that guide our academic and clinical placements:

  1. The promotion of a positive image of professional nursing
  2. The promotion of oncology nursing as a specialty area of practice
  3. The contributions oncology nurses can make to student learning (both undergraduate and graduate)
  4. The development of nurses with a special interest in cancer care
"I had the wonderful opportunity of having a student practice placement as well as an Employed Student Nurse position at the BCCA Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior. During these experiences, I was able to practice many skills under the helpful guidance of experienced oncology nurses.  In addition to enhancing my skill set, the BCCA provided me with an in depth orientation to the centre, ample opportunities for professional development and education as well as mentoring to aid me in furthering my career-orientated goal of working in oncology after graudation.  This experience was definately the highlight of my nursing education thus far!"
--Jennifer K.


 

Student categories

Academic & clinical student groups

There are currently six student categories in which the BC Cancer Agency can offer placements and support registered nursing education: 

1.  Undergraduate Nursing Students 

– including baccalaureate registered nursing students and post-registered nurse (RN) students in degree streams or enrolled in specialty programs (oncology, palliative care). Third or fourth year students are suitable for preceptorship in our ambulatory care areas while students in their final year of school would benefit from a preceptorship experience on the hospital unit. We welcome students of all levels for observation, project or research experiences. Unique requests will also be given consideration.

For more information about student practice education at BC Cancer Agency (as part of the Provincial Health Services Authority), please visit: Student Practice Education on the PHSA website.

Please also see “The Student Experience” section of this site to learn more about being a nursing student at BC Cancer Agency. 

2.  Employed Student Nurse (ESN) 

- The ESN Program is a provincial program that provides opportunities for registered nursing students to receive paid employment. Under the supervision of an RN, the ESN will work in a supernumerary casual position.

For more information and recruitment schedules, please visit:

http://careers.phsa.ca/CareerCentre/NursingOpportunities/Employed+Student+Nurses.htm 

3. Graduate Students 

- students in nursing programs at the Masters or Doctoral levels, or registered nurses enrolled in graduate programs in a related field. Any research initiatives would be undertaken once ethical reviews had been completed and authorization granted by the Human Research Ethics Committees both at the BC Cancer Agency and the student’s home university. Nursing research involving graduate students also requires the approval of the Professional Practice Nursing Team. 

4. Nurse Practitioner Students 

– registered nurses currently enrolled in a Nurse Practitioner program may have the opportunity to complete a portion of practicum hours while under the supervision of a Registered Nurse Practitioner, a GPO (a Family Physician with additional oncology training) or an Oncologist. Such opportunities are highly influenced by various curricula and must be approved by university specific Practica Coordinators. 

5. International Students 

- Students enrolled in registered nursing programs in other countries, who desire a clinical placement in oncology nursing. Students enrolled in baccalaureate registered nursing programs in other countries, and who are nearing the completion of their program, are welcome to apply for a clinical placement at the BC Cancer Agency. 

It is understood that:

  • The home institution is responsible for ensuring there is an affiliation agreement with PHSA
  • The student is responsible for ensuring any travel/work visas and/or similar requirements required by the Canadian government are fulfilled
  • The home institution is responsible for ensuring there is an affiliation agreement with Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA)
  • The international program provides malpractice insurance coverage during the student's placement
  • Thestudent is in good health and has documentation of health status and current immunization records
  • The faculty of the international program provides the curriculum objectives and arranges for guidance and monitoring through the BCCA preceptor in conjunction with the Professional Practice Nursing Team

6. Communities Oncology Network Nurses 

- Registered nurses working in other agencies, centres or communities who are not affiliated with a school of nursing and wish to learn about and practice in the area of cancer care. 

The BC Cancer Agency is able to provide limited clinical placements for registered nurses who work in community oncology settings and are seeking further education/experience in oncology. Learning objectives would be based on the registered nurse’s desire to learn about the art and science of oncology nursing. Opportunities could include observational or learning activities designed for the individual to gain knowledge and skill in caring for patients and families with cancer who are receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy. 

It is understood that the requesting hospital/setting will:

  • be responsible for the registered nurse's accommodation, travel and salary replacement costs while at the BCCA
  • provide a synopsis of the registered nurse's practice setting and identify specific objectives to be met during the placement

Please note that we are unable to support Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) clinical placements at any of the BCCA Regional Centres at this time. 

Placements

Requests 

All requests for academic and clinical placements should be made through HSPnet. The receiving coordinator at BCCA will respond to requests in a timely manner and help organize the practicum experience. An approved affiliation agreement between the education institution and PHSA is required before any request can be advanced. 

For more information about HSPnet and affiliation agreements, please visit: 

http://www.phsa.ca/health-professionals/education-development/student-practice-education

Opportunities

Listed below is a general overview of potential student placement opportunities. In addition, opportunities exist for practicum placements in conjunction with various projects identified by the Professional Practice Nursing Team. 


Systemic Therapy Program 
Registered nurses in the Systemic Therapy Program provide education, care and support to new patients, patients undergoing chemotherapy and other drug therapies, as well as those who have completed treatment and require ongoing care and support. This care is provided in ambulatory clinics (ACU), where registered nurses work as part of the care team, participating in patient consultations and administering chemotherapy and other drug treatments. As well, registered nurses in the Systemic Therapy Program work with patients enrolled in clinical trials (CT) and support patients between clinic visits by providing advice and information over the phone. 


Radiation Therapy Program
 
The BC Cancer Agency provides various types of radiation treatment to patients. The role of registered nurses in the Radiation Therapy Program has evolved significantly in the past few years, as new patient care needs are identified in conjunction with new radiation techniques. As key members of the Radiation Therapy Program Team, registered nurses work closely with oncologists and radiation therapists to contribute to processes that support the sharing and application of new treatment approaches. They also provide care, education and support to patients undergoing treatment. 


Ambulatory Care Unit 

In Systemic Therapy, students are mentored with a register nurse. In these clinics, registered nurses work with patients and their families along their cancer journey. Patients come to these clinics for new patient consultation, assessment while on active treatment and/or for follow-up post chemotherapy or radiation.
 

Patient Review / Patient Support 

In our Radiation Therapy patient review and patient support centre, students observe/participate in the provision of care to patients who are currently receiving Radiation Therapy. Nurses in this area provide assessments, wound care, patient education and management of side effects of treatment. 


Inpatient Units 
In-patient services are located only at the Vancouver Cancer Centre. The inpatient unit is a busy 30 bed general oncology unit. Of these 30 beds, two are emergency assessment beds (EABs) and one is for post operative breast surgery patients. Students observe / participate in the provision of care to patients who may be admitted at any point during their cancer experience from confirmation of diagnosis through treatment and palliation. A majority of admissions require supportive care during and post cancer treatment. Students will develop skills in pain and symptom management, as well as caring for patients receiving chemotherapy and radiation therapy (both internal and external). Student care focuses on comprehensive assessment of patients as well as the support and teaching of patients and their families to meet complex needs. The student nurse will support each patient and their family as a member of an interdisciplinary team of health professionals, including: physicians, nurses, social workers, radiation therapists, pharmacists, clinical dieticians and rehabilitation specialists. 


Surgical Suite 
The Surgical Suite offers specialized services that aid in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Working in the Surgical Day Care, Operating Room and Recovery Room, nurses are members of a multi-disciplinary team. Their professional skills and personal sensitivity support patients as they undergo and recover from such advanced procedures as laser therapy, prostate brachytherapy, biopsies and bone marrow harvests. 

Pain and Symptom Management Team 

The Pain and Symptom Management Team offers specialized services that aid in minimizing symptoms and improving the quality of patient’s lives. Working in the ACU clinics, inpatient units and with telephone care, the nurse is a member of a collaborative team. Their professional skills and personal sensitivity support patients in a holistic manner. 

Evaluation

We envision that evaluation is an interactive, iterative process. This means that:

  • preceptors contribute to evaluating learner performance during the placement (as outlined by the school)
  • learners evaluate the role of the preceptor
  • learners provide feedback on the clinical placement experience

Preceptors 
The BC Cancer Agency strives to provide opportunities, support and resources for the development of preceptors. The BC Cancer Agency, in collaboration with the educational institution, identifies nurses to participate in clinical placements as preceptors. 


Utilization of Clinical Skills 

Opportunities for undergraduate students to practice basic registered nursing skills are available in all settings. Added skills such as, administering chemotherapy, are within the domain of registered nurses who have completed specialized education programs and as such will not be supported. If appropriate, students may be supported by their preceptor to complete BC Cancer Agency requirements for skill certification. 


Orientation 
Students are required to complete the Student practice education and orientation program through the CCRS system. Once students are successfully registered through HSPnet an Education Resource Nurse or identified facilitator will ensure the student will receive information about general and site-specific orientation expectations at the BC Cancer Agency. 

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