Exploring the role of nurse practitioners in long-term follow up care of adult survivors of a childhood cancer Halldorson, Janelle
Treatment of childhood cancers has made significant gains is recent decades, leading to overall 5-year survival rates increasing to approximately 80%. As childhood cancer survivors (CCS) age, they are at risk for late effects – treatment-related health problems that occur at least 5 years after cancer therapy completion. It is estimated that at least 80% of CCS will develop at least one late effect, which can affect multiple body systems, normal growth and development, and psychosocial wellbeing. The need for long term follow up (LTFU) care to detect, mitigate and treat these late effects is widely recognized and endorsed, but unfortunately, remains suboptimal. There is limited evidence of the optimal model of care for these survivors, and to date, much of the literature has focused on the actual and potential roles and responsibilities of physicians. What appears to be lacking is consideration of nurse practitioner (NP) integration into LTFU of CCS. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of LTFU needs of CCS and suggest ways in which NPs could support optimal care delivery. NP advanced education and clinical experience, grounded in nursing fundamentals and guided by medical knowledge, allows for both autonomous and collaborative practice in a variety of settings and models of care. NPs are well positioned to support LTFU of CCS by: providing patient-centered care with a health promotion focus, applying strong communication and collaboration skills to support continuity of care and utilizing advanced assessments to direct patient care based on relevant guidelines.
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