Nursing Professor Helps Create Cancer Education Portal

Posted on July 25, 2012

Professor of Nursing Joan Such Lockhart recently volunteered her expertise to help create an online portal that can be used by nurse educators to better prepare student nurses to care for cancer survivors.

Joan Such Lockhart

The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), an international organization headquartered in Pittsburgh, initiated this project, dubbed the ONS Educator Resource Center. Funded by a Susan G. Komen Grant for the Cure Foundation, the portal connects nurse educators to cancer education resources, providing ways to augment curricula, whether they teach in diploma, associate degree, baccalaureate or graduate nursing programs.

Improvements in detection and treatment, Lockhart pointed out, have yielded higher survival rates along with side effects from long-term treatment. Consequently, cancer care has expanded beyond designated oncology clinical units and migrated to a variety of clinical settings within health care systems. In an undergraduate program, she explained, the focus is on preparing generalists, who assuredly will encounter cancer survivors in a range of situations—from prevention, to diagnosis to treatment to recovery and afterward—not only in hospital units, but everywhere they interact with patients in the community.

Lockhart, who also serves as the nursing school’s associate dean for academic affairs, was asked by the ONS to lead a group of eight nurses from across the United States in determining the curriculum areas for which nurse educators needed additional resources to help them prepare students to work with cancer patients and survivors.

The team began by creating and administering a national survey of faculty members in accredited nursing schools. The survey revealed which cancer-related concepts are being taught, which of these concepts educators judge to be most important and what barriers exist to teaching these concepts.

After compiling and analyzing survey results, Lockhart directed the second phase of the research, where consensus about the findings was sought in focus groups comprising the members of her research team and select survey participants. The results provided the ONS with guidelines for compiling the portal resources that would help educators better prepare future nurses.

Lockhart served on the advisory panel that guided the direction of the portal, while School of Nursing colleague Anna Vioral, an adjunct clinical instructor, served as a member of the team that assembled the educational materials for the portal’s content. The ONS Educator Resource Center went live in May 2012, and currently is available to educators for a modest fee.

A longtime ONS member who has specialized in oncology since becoming a nurse, Lockhart has donated her expertise and energy to the group as a board member, editor and volunteer on a number of projects and initiatives.

“I’ve gotten more active with ONS as the years have gone by, and I really and truly enjoy it.” Lockhart said. “It’s my second home.”

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