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From: European Oncology Nursing Society magazine

Winter/Spring 2018

Jaqualyn Moore reports on a small group of Palestinian nursing students undertaking a Higher Diploma in cancer nursing in Bethlehem, the first of its kind in their country, and their recent visit to the UK.

Palestinian students learn about cancer care in Glasgow. From left to right: Khitam Harb, Tamer Al Jafari, Esmat Awawdeh and Dana Nur

In early October 2017, four Palestinian nurses spent a weekend sightseeing in London. They were also in the UK to learn and become the new leaders in cancer nursing in their home country, Palestine. The nurses were part of a cohort of nine students undertaking a Higher Diploma (HD) in Oncology & Palliative Care Nursing at Bethlehem University. Stemming from the vision of Mariam Awad, Dean of the Faculty of Nursing & Health Sciences at Bethlehem University, and with support from EONS member Gerry O’Hare, a CNS with NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, the Higher Diploma is the first cancer nursing course in this part of the world.

The Higher Diploma programme, run by EONS member Dr Jaqualyn Moore from King’s College London, follows the EONS (2013) curriculum and provides eight taught modules and a variety of clinical placements to enable nurses to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to become specialised cancer nurses. The modules have been taught by a variety of nurse educators, doctors and nurse clinicians, predominantly from the UK. Support for learning within clinical placements has been provided by experienced nurses, locally, and by Gerry O’Hare. In fact, immediately preceding their visit to London the four nurses had been undertaking two weeks of clinical learning at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre.

Throughout the 16-month long cancer nursing programme students have been exposed to a variety of teaching and learning methods, with which they have wholeheartedly engaged. They are enthusiastic and committed learners who are keen to develop the expertise required of specialist cancer nurses so that they can make a difference to the lives of patients and their families in Palestine.

Cancer is a major problem in this resource poor country, which is home to 4.5 million people, 61.4% in the West Bank and 38.6% in Gaza (Palestinian Ministry of Health, 2013). Increasing incidence and late diagnosis has meant that cancer is now the second leading cause of death. Culture, stigma and poor access to screening have led to most cancers being diagnosed at a late stage and this, in turn, affects treatment outcomes. Elevating the role of nurses and ensuring they are well educated is one way of making a difference to patient care through raising awareness of cancer risks, through screening strategies and then through treatment and beyond. End-of-life is challenging and no palliative care service exists. However, two of the nurses on the Higher Diploma course have been tasked by their employers with setting up a palliative care service for children and have been receiving classroom and hands-on training in Jerusalem to enable this to happen.

Immediate local impact – and developing the dream

Palestinian students sitting on the statue of Mary Seacole at St Thomas’ Hospital,London.
From left to right: Esmat Awawdeh, Tamer Al Jafari, Dana Nur and Khitam Harb.

The Higher Diploma in Oncology & Palliative Care had its second intake, comprising eight nurses, at the beginning of September and I hope that the knowledge and skills gained through undertaking the course will begin to make an impact on the quality and extent of cancer care in this part of the world. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the care provided by the nurses is already making a difference locally. The challenge for these newly graduating specialist cancer nurses will be to continue to develop their cancer nursing knowledge and to influence change within the hospitals and clinics in which they work, their local communities and with the Palestinian Ministry of Health. One of the things that can make a difference to the prevention, diagnosis, care and treatment of people with cancer is better prepared healthcare professionals. Nurses are at the forefront of patient care and the better prepared they are, the greater their potential to make a difference. My dream is that the nurses who graduate from the Higher Diploma in Oncology & Palliative Care Nursing will exemplify the objectives they identified for undertaking the course and truly make a difference to the lives of people in Palestine.

If you would like to know more about the Higher Diploma in Oncology & Palliative Care Nursing being run at Bethlehem University, or are interested in contributing to the course through teaching a module, please contact Jaqualyn at

On the South Bank of the Thames, London

Jaqualyn Moore lectures at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care King’s College London.

Two students comment on their experience in the UK

Central Hall at St Thomas’ Hospital, London

Tamer Al-Jafari
“The first two days of my clinical practice was at The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. In these two days I saw the hospital facilities and I also spent time in a cancer patient charity department. I was surprised by this department – they work on psychological, physical, spiritual and social support for the patient.

“When we went to the hospitals, I found that people are open to talk about their cancer diagnosis and treatment, and also about palliative care. Most of them were interested to talk to me when they saw that I am from Palestine and especially that I am from Bethlehem.

“It is really amazing to have an opportunity to see how cancer is in the UK. All we need is time and we will reach the same quality of work at home.”

Esmat Awawdeh
“It was a wonderful experience , I learned a lot of skills especially in the field of palliative care; how to deal with nursing consultation; the best way for pain management; home visits for patients; how the nurses prescribe the medications; how to change dose or drug; how to assess and evaluate the patient. From this, I will seek to develop the health services for cancer patients in my country.”

At the London Eye with Danny Kelly

Jaqualyn Moore lectures at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care King’s College London.

Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine