Fertility Preservation

Pediatric Oncology Nurses Educating Medical Teams on Fertility Preservation

Project Leader: Kathleen Shea, MS CPNP

Project Team Members: Michelle Besmer, MSN BSN; Toni Foley, BSN; Jennifer Levine, MD MSW MSc BA

Institution: Columbia University Medical Center | New York, New York

Grant Type: APHON Evidence-Based Practice Grant

Year Awarded: 2016


With improvements in childhood cancer-directed therapies, overall survival rates are greater than 80% resulting in an estimate that 1 in 530 young adults is a survivor of childhood cancer (1). Unfortunately, these successful therapies can also cause long-term complications including a risk of infertility (2, 3). Despite recommendations that health care providers discuss fertility preservation options with patients as soon as possible after diagnosis before treatment begins, evidence suggests that this does not happen. In order to address the needs of our patients and reduce the knowledge and practice gap among our medical and nursing staff, we plan to implement an educational program following American Society for Clinical Oncology guidelines, utilizing nursing staff on the pediatric inpatient unit as educators during morning medical rounds.

We will provide 30-60 minute training sessions to the current cohort of inpatient nurses. Topics will include information on identifying treatments that pose a risk to fertility, identifying patients at risk for infertility,
identifying potential fertility preservation options based on age and gender, and identifying resources within our institution and geographic area. Nurses will present issues related to fertility for a given patient as part of their presentation during “rounds” with the medical team. Medical rounds will serve as a venue for educating the medical team who otherwise have very little knowledge and training in this area.

The nurses will complete a pre and post-test assessing knowledge surrounding fertility preservation and comfort level with discussing fertility issues with patients and members of the health care team. Medical staff including residents, fellows, and attending physicians will also be asked to complete a pretest at the beginning of their rotation and a post-test at the end of their rotation.

We anticipate that nurses will become advocates for fertility preservation resulting in improved patient care.