Foundations in Cancer & Palliative Care1

Subject NURS90027 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 25
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 54 hours off-campus lectures (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre) and/ or distance learning (including 12 hours online tutorials). Field practice component of a minimum of 300 hours
Total Time Commitment: In addition to the subject contact hours, students are expected to devote approximately 9 hours a week to this subject. Students can anticipate a time commitment of approximately 24 hours per week concurrent field practice.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia registration (Unrestricted)

Students must be employed at an affiliated clinical agency and provide documentation of clinical support arrangements necessary to undertake the professional practice portfolio prior to enrolment.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's courses. Students who think their disability will impact on meeting this requirement are encouraged to discuss this matter with the Course Coordinator and the Disability Liaison Unit.


Melbourne School of Health Sciences
The University of Melbourne
Level 1, 200 Berkeley St
Carlton Victoria 3010 AUSTRALIA
T: +61 3 13 MELB
F: +61 3 8344 4188

Subject Overview: This subject is designed to promote development of foundational theoretical knowledge to support safe practice as a beginning level specialty nurse in the clinical environment of Cancer & Palliative Care.

Key content relates to understanding the pathophysiology of cancer and carcinogenesis, and the principles of cure, control, symptom management and palliation. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation will be described as core treatments and elements of a multi-modal approach. The impact of diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and survivorship on the person confronted with a life threatening illness and their family, as well as the ethico-legal aspects of care will be explored. Emphasis is placed on health assessment for implementing and evaluating physical and psychosocial care across the disease trajectory. Throughout the subject the development of knowledge and skills in therapeutic communication will be promoted.

Interventions initiated by nurses at a beginning level of specialty practice will be described in terms of the research evidence underpinning practice and the technical knowledge that is a pre-requisite for skill development. Students engage in field practice to address learning objectives focussing on the application of theoretical knowledge to skill development and the practice of caring for patients in the cancer and palliative care practice setting.

Objectives: Students will be expected to be able to demonstrate their beginning specialty nursing practice through:
  • integration of the theoretical content covered within the subject to develop new knowledge that supports safe practice as a beginning specialty nurse in cancer or palliative care settings;
  • the ability to integrate knowledge and skills learnt in the subject to recognise and plan a response to patients experiencing alterations to health and wellness that occur in the specific context of cancer or palliative care settings;
  • the ability to understand and evaluate specialised interventions as described in the subject content to provide a foundation for participating in the delivery of care at the beginning level of cancer or palliative care nursing practice;
  • the capacity to use skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, rational inquiry and self-directed learning to apply knowledge learnt in the theoretical component of the subject to beginning level cancer or palliative care nursing clinical practice;
  • an understanding of the changing knowledge base in the specialist area;
  • the ability to apply scientific knowledge to understand skills and techniques applicable to the specialist area.
Assessment: Theoretical Component 60%

1. Problem solving exercise equivalent to 2500 words (30%) - Due week 8

2. Critical analysis of communication skill equivalent to 2,500 words (30%) - Due at end of semester

Clinical Component 40%

3. A professional practice portfolio which must include evidence of clinical competency achievement and is equivalent to 3,000 words (40%) - Due by the end of semester

Students must achieve a pass in both the theoretical and clinical component in order to pass the subject.

Prescribed Texts:


Recommended Texts: A list of recommended texts will be supplied to students on enrolment in the subject.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of the subject students should have developed the following generic skills of the Melbourne graduate and postgraduate coursework student:

  • a capacity to articulate their knowledge and understanding in written modes of communication;
  • a capacity to manage competing demands on time, including self-directed project work.
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Postgraduate Certificate in Nursing Practice (Cancer & Palliative Care)
Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing Practice (Cancer & Palliative Care)

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