Friends of the Cancer Centre invests in staff development in the Cancer Centre

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Since 2008, Friends of the Cancer Centre has been investing in the training and development of the staff within the Cancer Centre through our Scholarship Programme, which provides funding for staff to attend training or educational courses.  These courses allow Cancer Centre staff to enhance their skills and be at the forefront of some of the latest developments in research, treatment techniques and patient care, which they can then use to benefit patients locally. 

The Dr Gary McGowan Scholarship, the Pamela Lutton Scholarship, and the Pearl Ewing Scholarship have all been named and dedicated to late friends and colleagues in the Cancer Centre who themselves were champions of further career development and strived for professional excellence for the good of their patients.  This year we have awarded four scholarships and you can read just how the support of the charity is making a difference below:


The Dr Gary McGowan Scholarship 2015, which is open to all oncology trainees working in the Cancer Centre, has been awarded to clinical research fellow, Dr Eileen Parkes.


Explaining how the scholarship has enhanced her professional development and the benefit it will bring patients, Dr Parkes said:

"I was thrilled to receive the 2015 Dr Gary McGowan Scholarship.  This award enabled me to attend the “Flims” course on clinical trial design, which is widely recognised to be the best course on clinical trial design in Europe.  I had input from global experts on developing a clinical trial that I hope will benefit patients receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer in the future.  The training I received on trial design will benefit not only the trial protocol completed at this course, but also enable me to critically analyse potential trials we are considering for the Cancer Centre, to ensure we enroll patients on trials that are well designed.  Due to the generosity of this award, I’ve also been able to attend another course on developing clinically valid biomarkers, which enable us to choose the right drug for the right patient.  Without this award I would not have been able to attend these valuable courses, and I’m grateful to the Friends of the Cancer Centre for their commitment to funding and supporting staff in the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre.  Being able to attend these prestigious courses enables ongoing delivery of excellent cancer care in our local Cancer Centre."


The Pearl Ewing Scholarship 2015, which is open to all health care professionals working in the Cancer Centre, has been awarded to Karen Parsons who is currently enrolled in Friends of the Cancer Centre's Clinical Nurse Specialist Development Programme in Urology.


Outlining how the scholarship will make a difference to her work, Karen said:

"The award of the Pearl Ewing Scholarship is allowing me to complete an MSc module in Prostate Cancer with Sheffield Hallam University.  This further study will I believe enhance the experiences of patients with prostate cancer and their families for which I provide care.  Completion of this module will allow me to further develop my knowledge and expertise in the management of prostate cancer.  I feel that through this continued educational development I will be better able to support patients and their families as they progress on their cancer journey.  This module will I hope equip me to become an effective clinical nurse specialist in the future."


The Pamela Lutton Scholarship, which is open to therapy radiographers working in the Cancer Centre, has been awarded to radiographers Gemma Andrews and Kerry Aiken.

Both Gemma and Kerry used the funding to attend the UKRO 3 day National Radiation and Oncology Conference, which examines the latest technologies used in radiotherapy.  The conference covered pre-treatment, treatment delivery and future innovations in radiotherapy which Gemma and Kerry have been able to take their findings back to the Cancer Centre to enable the team here to develop their thinking around these areas and how they can be applied to benefit patients locally. 

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