Australian & New Zealand Childrens Haematology/Oncology Group


Celebrating International Nurses Day

Sunday 12 May 2024

Did you know that May is Oncology Nursing Month? And today being the 12th May is particularly special as it is also International Nurses’ Day!

Nurses make up the largest cohort of ANZCHOG members (32.9%) and they play a pivotal role at the forefront of paediatric haematology and oncology care. To celebrate the contribution nurses make within our community, we spoke with Chris Williams about his role as Regional Nurse Educator & Service Improvement Lead with the Victorian Paediatric Integrated Cancer Service (PICS).

Chris has spent most of his nursing career working with children and adolescents with cancer, and their families. He has worked across three states, within emergency, oncology inpatients and outpatients, education, management and quality roles. His current position with PICS is twofold, with part of his time dedicated to being the lead for the PICS Regional Outreach Shared Care Program (ROSCP) as the Regional Nurse Educator and the other half of his role being aligned to quality care in paediatric oncology as Service Improvement Lead.

When discussing his role in quality care, Chris shares that this includes, “work such as developing oncology care pathways and capability frameworks for health services, providing a consultative role to the PICS service improvement team, and opportunity to be involved in research with other partners here in Victoria such as the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute”.

The PICS Regional Outreach Shared Care Program (ROSCP) aims to provide care as close to home as possible for children with cancer in Victoria, when it is safe to do so, under a shared care model with either The Royal Children’s Hospital or Monash Children’s Hospital.

Chris describes his role as Regional Nurse Educator as largely being on the road, “working alongside a paediatric oncologist in delivering outreach clinics across Victoria, and well as delivering a multidisciplinary education portfolio with our nine regional partners who provide supportive care and low-complexity chemotherapy to children with cancer”. He works alongside regional nurse coordinator, Nicole Sirianni, who coordinates the ROSCP. Nicole liaises with the cancer services and regional partners to advocate and facilitate coordination of care according to the treatment protocol, surveillance and survivorship roadmaps of each child and adolescent. She provides communications and updates to regional partners at critical timepoints in a child’s care trajectory.

People living in rural and remote areas have been identified as a key priority population group in the Australian Cancer Plan, with a particular emphasis on care closer to home. The PICS ROSCP is helping achieve care closer to home, with Chris sharing that, “although the opportunities are often few, the impact the low-complexity chemotherapy program can have for families requiring repeated cycles of treatment (sometimes weekly) over a year or two has had some tremendous results. In the words of one of our regional leaders, the quality of a healthcare service is often judged by how we meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our local community. I think this is a good example of how when we all work together and appreciate that care for children with cancer occurs within the context of their family, we can achieve these results”.

In discussing care closer to home, Chris says that “the PICS ROSCP and the Children’s Cancer Centre was one of the first disciplines at the Royal Children’s Hospital to embrace telehealth technologies with our regional providers in its initial pilot back in 2012, and has been a standard of care ever since. One of the areas I see further promise has been in the development of the electronic medical record, where we can now, with parental consent, share a read-only version of the entire RCH medical record with our regional providers in real time, to ensure the right information is available when needed. This also often takes that burden off the family in complex history taking. I am looking forward to seeing how we can develop and integrate that more over time”.

Since its inception in 2008, the Victorian Paediatric Integrated Cancer Service (PICS) Regional Outreach Shared Care Program (ROSCP) has been supported by the Sporting Chance Cancer Foundation. More information on ROSCP can be found here.

Thank you Chris for sharing more about your role as Regional Nurse Educator with us. And thank you to all nurses for your valued contribution to paediatric oncology and haematology!

ANZCHOG is a non-profit organisation committed to ensuring Australian and New Zealand children receive world-class cancer care. We are the peak professional body for paediatric oncologists and health professionals who care for children with cancer, spearheading national initiatives to enhance clinical care through communication, research, networking and education. We are also the national cooperative clinical trials group for childhood cancer, actively working with trial consortia around the globe to ensure Australian and New Zealand children have the opportunity to access the latest promising cancer treatments.