Nurturing Cancer Care Professionals: Unveiling Opportunities and Challenges in Global Oncology Nursing

This text is based on the article Global Oncology Nursing Recruitment and Retention: A SWOT Analysis, Originally, published in 'Seminars in Oncology Nursing' in February 2023

In many parts of the world, the number of people facing cancer is growing rapidly. However, there aren't enough trained nurses to provide needed cancer care. The World Health Organization (WHO) has pointed out that there's a shortage of nurses globally, and especially in places with fewer resources.

Oncology nurses, who play a crucial role in administering chemotherapy safely and educating patients, need special skills. The nurse shortage not only affects patient care but patient  survival.  To solve this, we need recognise their value, create clear career paths, ensure they work in safe environments, and support them to avoid stress and burnout.

Planning is essential to deal with the growing cancer crisis. The WHO has suggested countries focus on recognising the importance of specialized roles for oncology nurses, giving them proper training and continuing education. Global collaborations, including the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer, show how different experts can work together. Initiatives by organizations such as the African Organization for Training and Research in Cancer (AORTIC) Pfizer, and the Mayo Clinic, are among those providing grants to support the expertise of oncology nurses in improving cancer care.

Even though there are challenges, it's urgent to make strategic changes because the cancer crisis is almost here. Governments need to see oncology nurses as experts, create certification programmes, and offer advanced education. WHO initiatives against unfair recruitment practices stress the importance of countries keeping an eye on and reporting the status of oncology nursing. Big programmes ensuring the availability of cancer medicines must also focus on strengthening the recruitment and retention of oncology nurses. The article insists that health ministries worldwide evaluate their plans and make necessary changes to ensure a strong team of oncology nurses ready to face the growing global cancer challenge.

This text is part of the European Cancer Organisation (ECO) repository of best practices and innovations to address the cancer workforce crisis in Europe. You can find more examples of best practices here.