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Use of Real-Life Experiences of Cancer Patients as a Training Strategy

Author(s): Anna Maria Grugnetti

Background: Patients narratives can facilitate a deeper understanding of both the self and the others through self-reflection, as well as encourage students’ learning. The use of patients’ narratives in teaching helps to generate meaning during the lectures and places the patient at the center of the care process. Aim: To describe a teaching strategy based on the experiences and biographical literature about cancer patients, within a nursing degree program, to help students to understand the physiological, psychological and spiritual needs of these patients. Methods: In our nursing degree program, during the lectures of Nursing and Research, we adopted a training strategy based on the illustration of cancer patients’ life story, to describe their emotions, feelings, fears, concerns, as well as their hopes through their path-disease, in order to help students in developing a reflective analysis to build relational skills for patient’s support. Result: This training strategy has stimulated students’ reflective skills; they were oriented to understand the impact that the disease can have on the person and his family, as well as on the workplace and on the social environment, in physiological, psychological and spiritual ways, to finally implement the care that can meet the real needs of cancer patients. Conclusion: These educational strategies encourage students to be more competent in supporting patients through this difficult situation and to develop the skill to understand the patient in a holistic way. The relationship and communication skills towards the cancer patient represent an essential component to improve the quality of nursing.