Members of Your Health Care Team
There are a number of health care professionals who are very knowledgeable in cancer care.They work closely together to ensure that your needs are met throughout your care.
Below is a brief description of the team members, who they are and what they do. You will most likely meet a number of these individuals over time. If you would like to discuss your issues with any one of us, we would be happy to meet with you. To contact a team member please refer to your list of phone numbers under the “Contacts” section in your binder.
The unit coordinating assistants provide clerical services and support for the cancer centre.
Some of their responsibilities include:
- Registration and booking of patient appointments.
- Answering and directing the cancer centre telephone calls.
- Processing physician orders and maintaining patient health records.
- Providing support and friendly visiting to patients receiving care.
- Assisting staff with patient registration, delivery of lab specimens and other daily tasks.
- Providing information to patients and caregivers about cancer-related services available in the community.
- Assist with patient flow in the clinical areas.
You will meet a team of registered nurses who are very knowledgeable and skilled in caring for individuals living with a cancer diagnosis. The nurses work together to:
- Support your physical, emotional and psychological needs during diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care or hospital admission.
- Provide specialized treatments such as chemotherapy and certain other procedures.
- Assist you in coordinating your care during your time in the cancer centre.
Oncologists are doctors who specialize in the area of cancer treatments and care. Depending on your type of cancer and the treatment that you may need, you may meet a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, surgical oncologist, or palliative care physician. This team of doctors:
- Provide care and treatment decisions during diagnosis, treatment and follow-up in the outpatient clinics.
- Manage your care if hospital admission is required.
The coordinating nurse is responsible for the planning and coordination of day-to-day activities of the outpatient clinics and chemotherapy. Responsibilities include:
- Promoting good patient flow and minimal wait times in the clinics.
- Supporting the clinic staff.
- Communicating between the oncology team members.
- Working with the interdisciplinary team to continuously improve the quality of patient care.
- Works with the coordinating nurse on the inpatient unit to enhance communication and patient care.
Clinical trials nurses are registered nurses with oncology and research-related expertise. Although the oncologists act as principle investigators in a number of cancer related studies (clinical trials), the nurses are responsible for the supervision of your care if you choose to participate in a study. If the oncologist asks you to participate in a study, a clinical trials nurse will:
- Educate you on the details of the study.
- Determine your eligibility.
- Obtain your written informed consent.
- Coordinate and supervise treatment and tests necessary to complete the study.
The nurse manager plays an important role in the overall management and operation of the cancer centre and the clinical trials department. The nurse manager responds to the needs of the patient through:
- Working with staff members to develop goals for the units.
- Promoting excellence in patient care.
- Facilitating communication amongst the team members.
- Supporting staff.
- Liaising with the nurse managers.
Treatment planning therapists are radiation therapists who specialize in radiation treatment planning. They work closely with the radiation oncologist and medical physicist to:
- Plan how the radiation will be given.
- Calculate the proper radiation dose for treatment.
- Specialize in the planning and delivery of internal and external beam radiation therapy.
- Perform daily patient assessments for possible side effects.
Medical physicists are professionals who provide technical support for planning and delivery of radiation treatments. They are in charge of the accuracy and safety of the radiation machines.
The clinical nurse specialist helps patients and families living with advancing cancer to improve their quality of life.
The clinical nurse specialist is available to help you and your family to:
- Manage the symptoms related to cancer or its treatment such as pain, shortness of breath or fatigue.
- Cope with different emotions that may arise.
- Assist in decision making and planning.
Oncology social workers are trained individuals who you can talk to about how cancer is impacting you, your relationships and other aspects in your life. They provide:
- Individual, couple or family counseling.
- Practical assistance to help you access transportation, drug benefits and financial assistance.
- Assistance in connecting you with essential community and hospital resources and to advocate for you to gain access to these supports if needed.
Psychologists meet with patients and their families to address a variety of issues, including:
- Distress related to diagnosis and treatment.
- Coping with treatment-related effects.
- Struggling with the uncertainty, lack of control and fear of the future.
- Depression and related problems.
- Stress reduction techniques.
- Assistance with loss and grief issues that occur because of illness.
Oncology pharmacists work with the health care team to ensure the safe use and dispensing of medications for the oncology patient. The pharmacist:
- Prepares chemotherapy.
- Maintains a computerised medication profile for individual patients.
- Documents allergies and serious reactions to drugs.
- Consults with drug manufacturers to keep current with the latest treatments.
- Provides patient information and counseling on drugs, their side effects and interactions with other drugs.
- Provides information regarding natural health products and cancer treatment.
Dietitians provide nutritional assessment and counselling to help patients achieve and maintain nutritional health. Information and advice is available on:
- Healthy eating during cancer treatment.
- Diet changes for managing side effects related to treatment.
- Education about use of oral nutritional supplements.
- Eating to maintain, gain or lose weight.
- Natural health products and cancer treatment.
The coordinator of spiritual services (hospital chaplain) and volunteer assistants are available to meet with patients and/or their family members when they are confronted with the spiritual and emotional issues that arise as they live with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Support is offered through:
- Discussion of the meaning of life, spirituality, grief issues, individual experiences and feelings.
- The use of prayer and faith symbols.
At certain points during your cancer experience, you may require support at home. A CCAC case manager is available to arrange for a variety of professional support services in the home which may include:
- Visiting nurses.
- Personal support workers.
- Physiotherapists, occupational and speech therapists.
- Social workers.
- Specialized equipment.