Connecting Nurses to Nurses
A model for best practice care of skin cancer in Australia
Despite making substantial gains in skin cancer prevention through sun protection campaigns, the incidence of skin cancer in Australia continues to rise –forecast to grow by 40 per cent in the next 10 years.
Our healthcare system needs to be prepared to support skin cancer patients throughout their journey – from early detection and diagnosis to treatment, survivorship and, in some cases, palliation.
The essential role of specialist skin cancer nurses
Evidence shows that one of the best models to improve health outcomes and reduce avoidable skin cancer deaths is to provide targeted and ongoing support for patients throughout their skin cancer journey.
At the front line of patient care, Melanoma and Skin Cancer Nurses (MSCNs) can make a difference to patients’ experience of support and care. With their specialist knowledge of skin cancer treatments and years of experience supporting patients, MSCNs provide essential psychological support, clinical support, and patient education.
Yet there remains a critical shortage of MSCNs in Australia, with only 12 specialist nurses nationwide to support over 400,000 patients.
Connecting Nurses to Nurses recommends a national nurse-to-nurse model for skin cancer care.
The expected benefits of a N2N model include
- Better patient access to specialist skin cancer care and support for more patients
- Greater support for patients to process a diagnosis and navigate treatment options
- Better patient access during treatment as well as post-treatment support to manage survivorship or palliation
- Improved nurse engagement, wellbeing, and professional development opportunities (particularly in regional and rural Australia)
- A pathway towards more specialist MSCNs across Australia