The Christie is globalising cancer education and training

By - World Healthcare Journal

The Christie is globalising cancer education and training


Globalising opportunities for education, training and knowledge exchange is a key priority for The Christie and its partners says Professor Richard Cowan, Director of The Christie School of Oncology.


Heath Education England (HEE) recognises that, as one of the foremost health systems in the world, the NHS is well equipped to respond to workforce development requests through bilateral agreements to share technical expertise and workforce planning, education and training.


The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester is Europe’s largest single site cancer centre, with a significant history in educating its own multinational workforce and healthcare professionals from across the world. It is therefore strongly positioned to establish partnerships with other oncology providers globally.


Indeed, The Christie School of Oncology, alongside its purpose of developing world class health care professionals in the UK, was established as part of The Christie’s commitment to providing global access to specialist oncology expertise.


“Education and training in the School of Oncology is primarily developed and delivered by clinicians and academics, who are delivering world-leading research and care. This gives all the organisations we work with confidence that our education and training is tried and tested, and has a positive impact on the service,’ says Professor Cowan.


“Many of our clinicians and academic experts who have developed careers at The Christie have come from overseas institutions, bringing an outlook and perspective that enhances the learning experience of staff enrolled on the School’s programmes”.


Observerships at The Christie


One such clinician at the forefront of many of The Christie’s educational initiatives in this area is Dr Patrick Shenjere, Consultant Histopathologist and Speciality Education Lead.


Dr Shenjere started his medical training journey at the University of Zimbabwe Medical School where he did his undergraduate and postgraduate training before moving to the United Kingdom for further specialty training. He has worked at The Christie since 2007.


Dr Shenjere’s department is a leading provider of educational expertise for trainees in histopathology, and for undergraduate students of the University of Manchester Medical School, and it has hosted numerous clinical observers from organisations worldwide.


“I think it is vitally important when hosting observers from overseas institutions to build in time before and at the start of their placement to understand the local context within which they are working, as well as their specific learning objectives,” says Dr Shenjere.


“I have hosted observers at The Christie whose only overseas trip has been to undertake the placement, so we carry a huge responsibility to ensure that the programmes they complete meet both their individual and organisation’s development needs. If we get it right, the time the observer spends with us can have a really significant impact when they return. ”


An oncology nurse from Parirenyatwa Hospital in Zimbabwe was funded through the International Atomic Energy Agency to take a placement at The Christie from March to June in 2017. Here she observed the treatment of patients having chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the information that was provided, the decision making, symptom management and the supportive care given. In her evaluation, the nurse recognised the technology gap between The Christie and her own organisation, but nevertheless noted the significant benefits of undertaking the placement.



Longer term partnerships


While The Christie generally hosts around 40 individual observer placements a year, increasingly they are developing partnerships with organisations looking for longer term opportunities. This includes placing clinical fellows, and sharing expert advice, education and training in order to improve specific service areas and, in the case of pathology, providing second opinions to supplement the service.


Dr Shenjere’s team can offer second opinions across a range of specialisms, as well as bespoke advice, education and training to clients, regarding their requirements for an oncology pathology service and the establishment of a clinical laboratory.


“The Christie Pathology Partnership (CPP) is a joint venture between The Christie and SYNLAB, Europe’s largest laboratory services provider and is present in over 40 countries globally,” he says.


“The partnership uses the very latest technologies, working methods and diagnostic techniques to help improve outcomes for cancer patients. CPP is one of the UK’s leading reference centres specialising incancer detection and treatment. As part of SYNLAB’s global reference testing network, clients have access to novel and exclusive tests for their patients including; oncology cytogenetics, FISH and specialist biochemistry assays. ”


In 2017 SYNLAB expanded its network in Africa through its acquisition of the diagnostic company PathCare Nigeria.


International Bursaries


Following the visit of a nursing colleague to The Christie in 2017, The Christie School of Oncologysubsequently offered an international bursary to two senior members of our Radiotherapy team to visit the Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare. The Christie has one of the world’s largest radiotherapy departments with:


• 15 linear accelerators

• extensive experience of developing digitally

networked satellite facilities

• The UKs first comprehensive NHS Proton Beam Therapy Centre

• MR Linac

• Stereotactic radiosurgery


The five day visit to Parirenyatwa enabled an exchange of knowledge around radiotherapy treatment planning and delivery, radiotherapy physics, brachytherapy, as well as a visit to the private care facility and teaching students at the Harare School of Radiography.

Given the mutual benefits of this visit, The Christie School of Oncology has now established a specific Global Health Partnership Group with the aim of improving and enabling sustainable change in global health through working closely with our overseas partners to develop projects that address local needs.


Health Education England has strongly promotedvolunteering overseas as an excellent opportunity for NHS staff to develop leadership and management skills, as well as sharing existing skills with others. Evidence suggests that such projects appear to have a significant and positive effect on staff retention and skills development.


A thriving international work programme can also really help us to attract new staff, with evidence to suggest that younger people, millennials in particular, are attracted to employers who demonstrate a wider commitment to their global community.


This year, the group has been awarded aninternational bursary to enable the group to review potential opportunities to work alongside other organisations with a wide portfolio of experience in global healthcare. The group also continues to work with the International Atomic Energy Agency to offer specialist placements to health professionals from African nations.


Prof. Richard Cowen, Director of The Christie School of Oncology

E: richard.

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