Newswise — New Brunswick, N.J., May 2, 2014 – On the frontlines of providing patient care, nurses at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey continually strive to enhance delivery methods and further educate the patients they are treating. To address the complexities involved with a pre-surgical treatment regimen for some breast cancer patients, a pair of nurses at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey explored an educational initiative to better help patients navigate this process. Their research is being presented at the Oncology Nursing Society’s (ONS) Annual Congress being held this week in Anaheim, California.

Clinical management of patients with early stage breast cancer has come to include chemotherapy aimed at shrinking tumors prior to surgical removal. Cancer Institute advanced practice nurses Hemanshu Patel, MSN, RN, APN-C, OCN and Jacquelyn Lauria, MSN, RN, APN-C, AOCPN identified a need for these patients to have additional educational support, as they found they were often anxious and overwhelmed by the complexity and amount of information. The nurses also found that these patients had difficulty in understanding and retaining key information that they needed to help manage certain aspects of care on their own. With that, Patel and Lauria included additional educational information about pre-surgical treatment to the ‘new patient’ orientation program.

Patel and Lauria examined industry benchmarking and literature reviews, and met with interdisciplinary experts. They used that information to develop content aimed at improving a patient’s understanding of treatment goals, explaining why treatment plans may require adjustments based on tumor response, supporting patients who may have a poor clinical response to treatment, and reinforcing the reasoning for surgery even if there is no evidence of a tumor following treatment.

The nurses implemented the content through a 20 minute class that is offered in conjunction with ‘new patient’ orientation at the Cancer Institute in which patients also learn about self-care strategies and support resources and take a tour of the treatment area. A patient education sheet and treatment calendar incorporating periodic review by the care team round out the initiative.

“Feedback from patients and our healthcare team indicates this enhanced education is reducing patient stress and leading to better comprehension of what is involved in this form of therapy,” note Patel and Lauria. “By helping patients appropriately navigate such complexities, we can help improve their treatment outcomes.” Patel and Lauria say the content is designed to be adapted for use by all nurses nationally.

Also at the annual meeting, Tracy Krimmel, AOCN, APRN-BC, an advanced practice nurse at the Cancer Institute, was named as an ONS Foundation Doctoral Practice Scholarship recipient. The scholarships are given to nurses who are interested in and committed to oncology nursing in order to continue their education by pursuing a research doctoral degree or clinical doctoral degree.

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New JerseyRutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey ( is the state’s first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. As part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey is dedicated to improving the detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer, and to serving as an education resource for cancer prevention. Physician-scientists at the Cancer Institute engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice, quite literally bringing research to life. To make a tax-deductible gift to support the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 732-235-8614 or visit Follow us on Facebook at

The Cancer Institute of New Jersey Network is comprised of hospitals throughout the state and provides the highest quality cancer care and rapid dissemination of important discoveries into the community. Flagship Hospital: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. System Partner: Meridian Health (Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center, Riverview Medical Center, Southern Ocean Medical Center, and Bayshore Community Hospital). Major Clinical Research Affiliate Hospitals: Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center, Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Overlook Medical Center, and Cooper University Hospital. Affiliate Hospitals: JFK Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (CINJ Hamilton), Shore Medical Center, Somerset Medical Center, The University Hospital and University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro.