Future-ready cancer workforce

Learning participantsSome of the world’s best cancer specialists work within VCCC institutions. The alliance harnesses this expertise in innovative ways to help translate leading-edge knowledge into contemporary learning. This year, more than 10,000 people took the opportunity to connect with the VCCC to discover more, learn more and do more – applying new understanding to improve outcomes for people with cancer.

Multiple learning events

The Monday Lunch Live lecture series provides weekly access to the latest knowledge across the spectrum of cancer disciplines.

A panel discussion in March addressing the impending COVID-19 pandemic attracted 900 viewers and was the catalyst for the establishment of the Victorian COVID-19 Cancer Network (VCCN). Since then the online lecture format has been extended to focus on specialised content to address the demands and challenges facing the workforce as a result of COVID-19 with the Cancer and COVID-19 in Victoria series.

Woven into the VCCC cancer education (theory and understanding) and training (the skills to practice) programming are opportunities at all levels incorporating clinical and research training, professional development and leadership.

MOOC enrolmentseLearning takes Victorian expertise to the world Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) provide a globally accessible platform that  is helping to transform learning on a large scale. Enrolments for the Cancer Survivorship for Primary Care Practitioners MOOC, developed by the VCCC and the University of Melbourne, have now surpassed 3,800 students.

The MOOC attracts participants from metropolitan, regional and rural settings Australia-wide. It has been embraced by international students with participants joining in from 83 countries, demonstrating the value of contemporary digital cancer education to overseas markets.

Clinical trials skills development and workforce training

The VCCC SKILLED Program is successfully introducing employment-ready candidates into the Victorian clinical trials workforce. From Ballarat Health Services and Barwon Health, to St Vincent’s Hospital and Royal Children’s Hospital, interns have gained positions in regional and metropolitan clinical trial units and healthcare services.

Industry support for the future success of the program has been assured with VCCC coordinating MTPConnect’s Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI initiative) into the future. This will enable the VCCC to extend delivery of the internships and increase available places, clinical sites and partners.

Education pipeline

Master of Cancer Sciences

It used to be that surgery, radiation and chemotherapy were the limit of options in cancer care. But things have changed, especially in the last decade. Multidisciplinary teams are introducing novel ideas and new therapies, better suited to individual circumstances. When students emerge this year as graduates from Australia’s first wholly online cancer-specific program, they will be among a new era of cancer specialists ready to tackle cancer on all fronts.

The Master of Cancer Sciences is the flagship postgraduate course in the VCCC’s educational suite, jointly presented with the University of Melbourne. As the incidence of cancer continues to rise globally, skilled practitioners in the oncology workforce are in increasing demand.

Real-time learning

The innovative nature of the program brings together internationally recognised oncology expertise with online learning techniques. Students learn from clinicians and researchers almost in real-time – as new research and clinical approaches develop.

Over 180 experts have contributed to the program which incorporates curricula and resources that reflect the dynamic nature of the field. Teaching and learning approaches include fully animated lecture suites, gamification, virtual reality,  and patient simulations.

Relevant for broad range of disciplines Junior study coordinator in clinical trials at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Farha Inam says, “I’ve developed my professional communication skills, both oral and written, and my knowledge of the foundations of cancer and general understanding of cancer within society has also deepened.”

Speech therapist Alanna Bowen also endorses the multidisciplinary approach saying, “I have been a clinician for 10 years and wanted to further my knowledge and understanding of cancer beyond that of my own profession. The subjects exploring survivorship are of particular interest to me and I hope to obtain the skills required to contribute to translational research in a meaningful way.”