Victorian Urological Nurses Society (VUNS) Bladder Cancer Group – An Overview

By Marc Diocera
Group Coordinator, VUNS Bladder Cancer Group
Genitourinary Nurse Consultant, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

The Victorian Urological Nurses Society (VUNS) Bladder Cancer Specialist Interest Group (SIG) is a sub-speciality group of advanced practice nurses caring for patients with bladder cancer.

The group was originally formed by Victorian urology nurses in 2013 to address the issues that nurses faced during the 2012 global BCG shortage.

The group has since grown into a professional network which strives to:

1) support and facilitate evidenced-based practices/research in bladder cancer nursing,

2) allow collaboration with colleagues and disseminate knowledge to improve patients’ outcomes

3) assist in refinement and consolidation of information for bladder cancer patients, and

4) provide a forum for professional development amongst bladder cancer nurses.

No other bladder cancer nursing group existed within the Australia or New Zealand at this time. An online survey was sent out to all members of the Australia and New Zealand Urological Nurses Society (ANZUNS) on 13 February 2019.

The online survey received 43 responses.

74% of the respondents work in Melbourne with a large cluster in the eastern half of the metro area. Ballarat was represented with 3 respondents and South Gippsland by 1. South Australia was represented with 5 and all were within metropolitan Adelaide. Unfortunately, the other Australian states and territories and the whole of New Zealand were not represented.

Over half of the respondents have been involved in the care of patients with bladder cancer for more than 10 years. This represents a fairly experienced group of nurses while also representing new nurses taking up roles involved in the care of bladder cancer. However, less than half of the respondents plan to stay in such roles indefinitely with the majority of respondents seeing an end-point in their involvement in the care of patients with bladder cancer. This is an interesting finding as it may indicate either an ageing group of nurses involved in the care of bladder cancer or a high turn-around of interest or role.

When asked which area of bladder cancer nursing the respondents were involved in, the majority noted their involvement to be in patient education, patient support and administration of intravesical treatments. There is also a strong representation of respondents caring for patients in the out-patient setting including continence management and private practice. Very few of the respondents are involved in the care of patients undergoing systemic treatments, radiotherapy or trials.

When the respondents were asked what their PRIMARY role in the care of patients with bladder cancer was, the most common answer was the care of patients undergoing intravesical treatments. None of the respondents considered their role to be primarily for systemic treatments nor research.
In conclusion, the membership remains largely Victoria-based. Getting new members from South Australia is very promising, but more work must be done to find other nurses who are involved in the care of bladder cancer patients especially in rural areas. Like the success in prostate cancer nursing, a sub-specialty like bladder cancer nursing will benefit from improved networking and collaboration among all levels of healthcare. The group is well-positioned to do nurse-led research and quality improvement work to understand the current situation, and the needs of bladder cancer patients and their carers. However, the group lacks direct involvement in the management of advanced and metastatic bladder cancer, including research and trials. This possibly highlights a potential gap between urological nursing and cancer nursing in the space of bladder cancer care, or perhaps this is simply an area of future growth for urology nurses.

This is an excerpt from an accepted presentation for the Australia and New Zealand Urological Nurses Society (ANZUNS) Annual Meeting in Sydney in March 2020.

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