Poster Presentation Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting 2017

Use of simulated patients and experiential learning to induct nurses providing phone-based cancer information and support (#243)

Katherine Lane 1 , Monica Conway 1 , Veronica Porcaro 1 , Megan Chiswell 1
  1. Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


Cancer Council Victoria’s (CCV) 131120 Information and Support line is staffed by oncology nurses who use a niche skill set to provide informational, practical and emotional support to people affected by cancer. Given the complexity of calls received, nurses employed have at least five years oncology experience and undergo robust induction. Since 2008, simulated patients (SP) have been utilised as part of this process to assess readiness to begin taking 131120 calls.

This abstract aims to describe this assessment process and provide a suggested best-practice model for similar services.


Induction for 131120 nurses is four weeks, part time, with simulated assessment calls conducted in the final week. Two scenarios that are identified as being potentially challenging to handle are briefed to the designated SP by the Nurse Manager. This may include dealing with those who are highly distressed, angry, or pushing for information outside the nurse’s scope of practice.

Simulated calls are recorded so both nurse and manager can review at completion, against a standardised call assessment tool. The SP also provides feedback on the interaction to the manager, following the simulation.


34 nurses have been inducted to 131120 using this process, with the majority of scenarios focusing on complex psycho-social issues, practical issues or a balance between both.

It provides a safe and effective opportunity to challenge the nurse’s capabilities and encourages self-reflective practice which is imperative in this supportive care environment.


Nurses report that using an experiential learning model as a basis for assessment provides a realistic and authentic way for both nurse and manager to assess readiness to begin independently taking calls. Given its success in Victoria, there is scope to share and implement this quality assessment model across other Cancer Council’s to aid process standardisation and consistency, nationally.