NCRI conference 2018: A research nurse perspective

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CRUK’s Lead Research Nurse Anne Croudass comments on the National Cancer Research Institute’s 2018 annual conference as an opportunity for research nurses to learn about the latest cancer treatments and research.

The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) held their annual conference in Glasgow in November 2018.  

The NCRI conference is often perceived as being very science orientated, but this year, the programme had something for everyone, with sessions falling into five key themes of: 

  • Cancer discovery / underpinning research 
  • Prevention 
  • Early detection, diagnosis and prognosis 
  • Treatment 
  • Cancer control, living with and beyond and cancer outcomes 

As a research nurse, the conference provides an ideal opportunity to understand more about the scientific discoveries that lead to the development of the new treatments that we are using in clinical trials. Of course, some of the basic science sessions are anything but basic, but the excellent early morning session “Today’s Science Demystified” by Elaine Vickers make it very accessible.  

Understanding the scientific concepts behind new and emerging treatment enables research nurses to have more informed conversations with patients about the treatments they are receiving, the likely side effects and the rationale for tests and monitoring.  

Many of the sessions are directly clinically relevant, including emerging results from current trials, presenting individual cases or looking at the longer-term implications of new and emerging treatments.  

These presentations really put research nurses ‘ahead of the curve’ enabling them to support their cancer nursing colleagues in how to administer new treatments, how to support patients receiving these treatments, how to identify and manage side effects and the workload implications of delivering innovative treatments in today’s NHS. 

One of the most eagerly anticipated sessions was the big reveal of the UK’s top 10 living with and beyond cancer research priorities. This important NCRI initiative aims to accelerate research and improve life quality for people affected by cancer.

With such a variety of sessions, the NCRI provides delegates with a useful summary of the daily news from the conference and a great overview of the highlights.

No review of the NCRI conference would be complete without mention of the fantastic ‘consumer’ contribution. As well as consumer delegates, there were sessions chaired and presented by consumers and of course, the excellent Dragons’ Den where researchers can pitch their ideas to those most affected by cancer. 

As well as the formal sessions, there were also a wide selection of exhibition stands, poster presentations and the new ‘silent theatre’ presentations which provide even more opportunity for self-directed exploration and learning.  

Of course, networking is an important part of any conference, and there is plenty of opportunity for that at the NCRI conference. It is a truly multi-disciplinary meeting and I think all research nurses should put it on their wish list of conferences to attend. Get the dates in your diary for next year!

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