UWE pioneers master classes in head and neck cancer

Issue date: 15 May 2009

University of the West of England The University of the West of England is teaming up with North Bristol Trust to offer training for experienced nursing and other health practitioners in specialist care for patients needing treatment for head and neck cancers.

Pat Turton, Principal Lecturer in Cancer Care from UWE, explains, “These pioneering master classes have been especially designed for experienced professionals in this field and provide an exciting opportunity for practitioners to gain an insight into latest developments. The master classes have been designed and are run as three two-day blocks to take into account the busy professional lives of the people who are likely to be interested and offer a condensed and intensive summary so that participants can schedule their work as easily as possible in order to attend.”

Students will learn about chemotherapy and radiotherapy to the head and neck; the surgical treatment of head and neck cancers, post operative management of patients and rehabilitation and issues in survivorship. There will also be a session on simple coping strategies to help people with head and neck cancer and a session on palliation for those with more advanced disease.

The six day course spread over a three month period will challenge the students to explore and increase their knowledge and understanding of head and neck cancer, providing the opportunity to learn more about the biology of the head and neck cancers, the anatomy of the head and neck and to learn about current chemo-radiotherapy treatments.

A further benefit to those attending is that although blocks can be taken individually, students who would like to obtain academic credit for their professional development, can enrol on an Evidencing-Work Based Learning module, and use the contents of the course to further develop their clinical practice – to date eleven students have chosen this option.

Co-facilitating the course is Head and Neck Cancer Specialist Nurse and UWE Lecturer Libby Potter from North Bristol Trust. Libby has been active nationally in this professional field, and has been Chair of the British Association of Head and Neck Oncology Nurses (BAHNON). She brings a wealth of clinical expertise to the course.

We are also pleased that, in addition to its multi-professional nature, the course demonstrates collaboration across Trusts in Avon Somerset and Wiltshire Cancer Services Network. Contributors to the course are clinical experts drawn from University Hospitals Bristol as well as North Bristol Trust, the Cancer Network and one of our local hospices, St Peter's Hospice and the Penny Brohn Cancer Centre who are actively collaborating with North Bristol Trust on a survivorship initiative.

From a national perspective, providing the opening lecture is Professor Martin Birchall from University College London, whose talk is entitled 'The Future of Head and Neck Surgery – 2020.' Senior speech and language therapist Ann Hurren from City Hospital, Sunderland, who also has national recognition in this clinical area will be delivering a session on surgical voice restoration and communication aids in the July block.

A final point is that through the participating lecturers, the perspective of the person with head and neck cancer and their supporters has been kept central to the course, and a patient and their wife have kindly agreed to share some of their experiences with the participants.

Pat Turton concludes, “We are offering a fresh and innovative approach to learning and have a wealth of experienced and celebrated speakers from within the field of head and neck oncology. We have been delighted with the response and the course is full for this year. We will definitely be repeating it next year.

For more information about the course and dates for next year 2010, contact Pat Turton in the first instance. Please e-mailPat2.Turton@uwe.ac.uk

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