Nova Scotians will get better care from health professionalsthanks to Interprofessional Core Curriculum (ICC), a continuingeducation program launched today, April 19, by Cancer Care NovaScotia. “ICC represents the beginning of a new and exciting era incontinuing clinical education in cancer care,” said Dr. AndrewPadmos, commissioner, Cancer Care Nova Scotia. “Before wedeveloped ICC, We surveyed health professionals to determinetheir needs. Using this information, together with evidence andbuilding on best practice approaches, we developed the program. “We’ve tested the program and the response from healthprofessionals has been overwhelmingly positive. As a result ofICC, cancer patients and families can be confident that theirhealth providers will have the knowledge and skills needed toensure all Nova Scotians continue to receive high quality,evidence-based cancer care.” The program has 10 modules, including pain management, symptommanagement, treatment and side effects. Each module is designedto increase health professionals’ knowledge and skills and topromote changes in their professional practice. Ultimately, theprogram’s goals are to improve patient outcomes andpatient/family satisfaction. “It is important to support our cancer professionals withcontinuing education, providing them with the required tools tokeep abreast in a field that makes continuous progress daily –both in treatment and research,” said Health Minister AngusMacIsaac. “The quality of care for patients and families willbenefit from this unique continuing care program.” The ICC modules are interactive and delivered in a teamenvironment with nurses, physicians, social workers, pharmacistsand representatives of other health disciplines. This interprofessional approach to continuing clinical educationmakes the program unique in Canada. Cancer Care Nova Scotia officials decided to use theinterprofessional approach because needs assessments indicated anumber of health professionals were interested in similar topicsand in learning more about each others’ jobs. The often complextreatments for cancer also mean that many professionals may beinvolved in the same patient’s care and evidence suggests thatteam approaches, like the one being used in this training, workeffectively in such instances. The program was pilot-tested across the province, with 441 healthprofessionals participating. Fifty-four per cent of participantswere nurses, 23 per cent were pharmacists and 11 per cent werephysicians. Evaluations of the program were positive, withparticipants reporting that they gained new skills and developedcommon approaches and enhanced understanding of one another’sroles and responsibilities. The in-depth evaluation focused onhealth professionals’ intended and self-reported changes inpractice as well as changes in interprofessional collaboration. As a result of the program, 74 per cent of respondents indicatedthat they were intending to make or were considering increasingtheir communication, collaboration, consultation and teamworkwith other health professionals. This will help improve patientassessment, communication between health care professionals andtheir patients, and management of patient pain and treatment sideeffects. In addition, 56 per cent of respondents indicated they wereintending to make or were considering more frequent referrals toand consultation with community specialists; greaterparticipation as a member of a care team; and increasedinformation sharing. Dr. David Abriel, palliative care physician, South Shore HealthPalliative Care Services, was a member of the curriculum-workinggroup. He is also one of the program’s facilitators and is astrong proponent in the value of a team approach to both learningand the delivery of care. “Phenomenal things happen when health professionals learntogether in a team environment,” said Dr. Abriel. “ICC will keepus current on the many advances in cancer care and because of theprogram’s interprofessional approach, we will also gain a betterunderstanding of one another’s roles and the value that each ofus brings to the care team. As a result, we will work bettertogether and our patients will benefit greatly.” ICC was developed by Cancer Care Nova Scotia with expertassistance from Dalhousie University Continuing MedicalEducation, Dalhousie University Continuing Pharmacy Education andthe Registered Nurses Professional Development Centre (aprovincial program of the Department of Health).Content expertsand Cancer Care Nova Scotia’s Interprofessional EducationAdvisory Group and Curriculum Working Group were also involved. Cancer Care Nova Scotia is a program of the Department of Health,created to reduce the burden of cancer on individuals, familiesand the health-care system through prevention, screening andresearch. It also aims to lessen the fear of cancer througheducation and information. Its programs are centred in thecommunity, compassionate to patients, cost-effective and based onsound research.