Ireland’s first psycho-oncology degree

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Good news for those  of us hoping to see an improvement in the holistic care of cancer patients in Ireland. DCU’s School of Nursing have launched Ireland’s first degree in psycho-oncology, Graduate Diploma/MSc in Psycho-oncology. The new degree will focus on the psychological care needs of patients with cancer.  This will include an understanding of the impact of the diagnosis of cancer on patients, their spouses and families.

The launch was attended by one of the world’s leading experts in the area, Dr Andrew Roth, Attending Psychiatrist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University.  Dr Roth specialises in the psychological impact of cancer, particularly in patients with prostate cancer and older patients. Speaking at the launch, Dr Roth said that he was delighted that the new programme was now being offered in Ireland.  It was an acknowledgement of the numerous psychological ‘side effects’ following a cancer diagnosis, which can include stress, distress, depression, anger, worries about financial and sexual matters, and fears of cancer pain.

Dr Roth said, “This new degree marks a major milestone in cancer treatment.  It is part of a worldwide mission, to look at not just the physical needs of people with cancer, but also at their social, spiritual and psychological needs.  This will hopefully lead to an improvement in their quality of life”, he said.

Dr Shelagh Wright, Lecturer in Psycho-oncology in the School of Nursing and chairperson of the new degree said, “Much of the focus on cancer treatment to date has been purely on the physical wellbeing of the patient.  However, the psychological pain and suffering has been relatively ignored.  This new degree will put the psychological care of the patient firmly on the agenda in line with the National Cancer Strategy.  The aim is for patients to enjoy an enhanced quality of life and to maintain a sense of self-care throughout their cancer journey.  It is envisaged that graduates of the new degree will be in a position to facilitate the development and delivery of a more holistic service, which will improve the psychological wellbeing of patients with cancer and their families.  This will have implications for service provision in Ireland.

More information: Dublin City University website