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Jon Kennard


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TrainingZone interviews: ecancer


As part of our theme of the month, we caught up with Danny Burke of online cancer education providers ecancer to discuss L&D in the charity world.

Tell us about ecancer.

We improve cancer communication and education with the goal of optimising patient care and outcomes. We were founded just over five years ago by Professor Umberto Veronesi and Professor Gordon McVie as the online scientific journal of the European Institute of Oncology. Over the last five years we have expanded our services so that, as well as our journal, we have over 2,000 video interviews of leading figures in the world of cancer and supply news and accredited online education.

We are also involved in three leading EU-funded projects that aim to improve cancer care through enhanced technology as well as improved collaboration between Europe’s leading cancer institutes. We’re a not-for-profit organisation and all of our resources and education are completely free to the entire cancer community.

What are the L&D challenges for you at the moment?

At the moment we’re in the process of developing an online course in palliative care for African healthcare professionals. The biggest challenge, and the challenge faced by the majority of medical education providers is to demonstrate the link between educational resources and an improvement in clinical care. Ultimately the aim of any education is to improve a learner’s behaviours in some way, so for us in the field of medical education, this will result in improved patient care and outcomes.

We are introducing a process into our course that will help the learners to evaluate their care over a sustained period of time and therefore see if there has been an improvement or worsening of care in any particular area. This is then useful for them in the future to determine in which areas any additional education is needed.  

Is the third sector open to new L&D ideas or is it quite stuck in its ways?

I can’t speak for the third sector in general, but I can say that this is a challenge faced by medical education providers, probably providers of education across the board. A learner can sit in a lecture, or sit in front of a computer and do an online course for an hour, but that is not (or shouldn’t be) the end goal. Really it's how that education affects their behaviour when they next face the situation they are being educated about.

The drive in this area for us is coming from the funders of education; if you can demonstrate a proven track record of behaviour modification that improves patient outcomes, and potentially saves lives, then you are in very strong position when approaching organisations to fund your work.  My opinion is that any educators who aren’t thinking in these terms will be left behind by the organisations who are.

What changes would you like to see made to improve L&D in the third sector?

The main changes in education that I’d like to see is an improved focus on the evaluation of education and whether it really makes a difference to the learner’s competencies. It’s not easy to do, but I can’t understand why anyone would fund an educational experience if the providers were not at least trying to do this.  

Danny Burke is education and research projects manager at ecancer. Previously he has worked in fundraising for CRUK, CLIC Sargent, Greatwood and Readathon. Ecancer are members of the European Association for Cancer Education and are the official journal of the European Institute of Oncology and the Organisation of European Cancer Institutes

Author Profile Picture
Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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