Evaluation of the first eighteen months of the first running of an MSc in psycho-oncology through the School of Nursing, Dublin City University, Ireland

Wright, S., Staines, A. and O'Connor, R. (2011) Evaluation of the first eighteen months of the first running of an MSc in psycho-oncology through the School of Nursing, Dublin City University, Ireland. [Conference Proceedings]


BACKGROUND: In Ireland, psycho-oncology service provision is endorsed in the National Cancer Strategy (2006). However, psychosocial oncology services are currently under development and many healthcare professionals working in the oncology setting have little education in this vital aspect of patient and family care. The MSc in Psycho-oncology, the first in Ireland, aims to provide an international standard third level accredited postgraduate programme of education in psycho-oncology to help to drive the development of psycho-oncology services. METHOD: The accredited MSc in Psycho-oncology programme with seven students began running in October 2009, one day per week. Students completed their first year over two semesters covering four foundation modules specific to psycho-oncology. Modules for the first semester of the second year focused on leadership and management in psycho-oncology and palliative and terminal illness and bereavement. During this semester students prepared their research proposals for their Masters' Dissertations, prior to submission to the School of Nursing Ethics Approval Committee, and submissions to formal research ethics committees as required by organisations kindly giving permission for their research data collection. RESULTS: Students evaluated weekly lectures &/or workshops using the LecTrain evaluation form, comprising a Likert scale and a pre post self evaluation of learning outcomes and qualitative feedback. A more detailed School of Nursing module evaluation form was completed by students at the end of each semester. Students' learning outcomes were formally evaluated during the three semesters by continuous assessment, with both written and practical assignment (video and self assessment of communication and assessment skills; classroom presentation) components followed by internal and external examination. CONCLUSIONS: Students' learning outcomes are reflected in the high standard of their written assignments and enthusiastic hardwork to prepare interesting and relevant research proposals. However, a strongly recommended change is for students to begin planning their research proposals in the first year. The MSc in Psycho-oncology programme has and continues to be evaluated positively by students, particularly the provision of online Moodle and general support and flexibility in meeting students' learning needs. The motivation and enthusiasm of students to transfer psychooncology knowledge to the clinical setting contributes to their commitment to the programme and their working cohesively as a group.

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