Background: Oncology care is a highly specialised division of nursing which requires a higher level of training and education following basic preparation. Rwanda, a developing country, initiated education of oncology nurse specialists in 2015. This paper highlights the experience of establishing the programme.
Methods: Selected literature and expert oncology nurses were consulted to provide direction for the development of this paper. The websites of oncology nursing organisations and the curriculum used by the University of Rwanda for preparing oncology nurses were also reviewed.
Results: In 2015, Rwanda initiated the training of oncology nurse specialists (master’s level). The programme has had two successful cohorts graduating. This programme is implemented in a module system with 14 modules. The modules emphasised on screening and diagnosis of different cancers and their treatment, management of treatment related side effects, palliative care, end-of-life care and rehabilitation. A part this formal education, Rwanda, through Partners in Health and the Rwanda Biomedical Center, is also offering in-service training of nurses on cancer treatment, preventive measures and early identification such as Clinical Breast Examination and screening of cervical cancer.
Conclusion. Oncology nurses can play a key role in the care of cancer patients and prevention activities when they have the appropriate education. Rwanda’s experience in establishing a master’s programme in oncology nursing could be of assistance to others who wish to develop a similar programme.