Almost twenty years ago, Michelle’s traded her after-hours, clinical resource nursing role for a ‘9 to 5’ job in Rad Onc. Today, Michelle is the chair of the CNSA Radiation Oncology Specialist Practice Network and she hasn’t stopped there. Michelle’s love of radiation oncology nursing and an encounter with eviQ at a CNSA conference, has resulted in the first skills and competency framework for radiation oncology nursing—the Radiation Oncology Knowledge and Skills (RONKAS) framework

Michelle embarked on the RONKAS project with twin desires: to lift the profile of rad onc nursing, and to try to ensure that skilled nurses are giving correct information and care to patients and their families. 

‘RONKAS is important as it gives the nurse who is either embarking into the world of Radiation Therapy (RT), or a seasoned RT nurse, the knowledge and skills to provide evidence based care to patients receiving radiation therapy.’

Michelle’s current role in delivering RONKAS includes promoting its use throughout the workplace and running education sessions for radiation oncology nurses. She also attempts to convey ‘how valuable radiation oncology nurses are’ to the wider nursing community, something she sometimes finds challenging.

What does Michelle enjoy about radiation oncology nursing?

‘I really enjoy the team work that is necessary between RTs and Nursing. I believe one can’t function without the other’. 

Michelle believes Rad Onc nursing ‘truly does encompass the concept of “Holistic” care. At my hospital, we follow a Model of Care, where we meet the patient at planning, on day 1 of RT and at scheduled and ad hoc times throughout a patient’s radiotherapy. We assess the patient and their significant others, we implement strategies to help them cope, such as relaxation and pre meds for patients who suffer from mask anxiety, and we instigate community nursing for support post RT. We make referrals to allied health for social work, dietetic, psychology input etc. We liaise with the RT and Radiation Oncology as well as the chemo therapy nurses for those patients on concurrent Chemo/RT’.