Excellent Practices

Nursing and Education

Practice Category: Nurses

Centre: Trinity St. James’s Cancer Institute

Patricia Doherty


Challenge which the practice addresses

Nursing within Trinity St James’ Cancer Institute (TSJCI) is a dynamic and ambitious group and we are committed to quality improvements within the provision of patient-centred care. The need to maintain staff is affected by challenges in staff recruitment, retention and skill mix. Another challenge is our responsibility to treat/care for an ever-increasing patient number utilising our finite resources. Our education programme in TSJCI will provide flexible education offerings to all those connected with delivering cancer care and performing cancer research. A challenge linked to the roll out of these programmes is sustained investment.


Our solution has been to provide of robust supports for new staff including clinical support nurses and education and training opportunities. These support instruments receive funding and institutional support in order to ensure their continuous availability.

Ongoing recruitment is orchestrated via social media platforms. To effectively retain staff, the dual tenets of empowerment and collaboration are promoted, for example, the launch of a quality improvement initiative at Ward level.

Our staff are our key asset, and to support their welfare we have introduced multiple initiatives in wellness and well-being. Our staff are always encouraged to avail themselves of all the supports and care pathways they require to maintain and protect their physical and mental well-being.

In TSJCI, we run an MSc in Translational Oncology and an MSc in Cancer Survivorship which cover all cancer modules across the cancer patient’s journey from cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cancer survivorship. This suite of cancer modules is open to all postgraduate students for credits to upskill their oncology education opportunities. Mentorship of all trainees taking these programmes is pivotal.


Our ongoing success is the result of a number of positive elements which include our can-do attitude, dual-ethos of constant pan-service communication, coupled with collaboration. The cancer nursing group and its partnership with Trinity College, Dublin delivers morale enhancement and translates to our aspiration to deliver evidence-based practice in cancer research.

For our taught cancer programmes, we measure impact on where our graduates progress to in their careers. Many go on from our MSc programmes to embark on PhD cancer research work, act as project leaders in clinical trial organisations, and enter into graduate medical school. Many of our health care professional and allied health care workers bring their MSc degrees back to improve practice in their relevant disciplines.

Critical success factors

Our ongoing achievements have been successfully fostered via the application of multiple factors which have included:

  • Vision
  • Culture
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Accountability
  • Nursing autonomy
  • Empowerment
  • Winning team-think
  • Ambition
  • Pride
  • Ability to attract funding for cancer research

Next steps

Our current focus is placed upon continuous improvement planning within the OECI framework. We are also working towards ‘Magnet Hospital’ status with the American Nursing Credentialing Centre (ANCC).
We aim to boost our nursing research output through the Cancer Nursing Group & Trinity College Dublin.

In our education structure, our focus is to significantly increase support for early stage researchers across all disciplines. We aim to position our flexible, personalised oncology education at a national and international level through the continuous development of a suite of options (certificate, diploma, degree) for scientists, health care professionals and allied healthcare workers.