Designing Innovative Education for Nursing Development With Leah Scaramuzzo and Alisha Ellis

At the recent 47th Annual Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress in Anaheim, California, Leah Scaramuzzo, MSN, RN, MEDSURG-BC, AOCN®, Nursing Director for Oncology Clinical Development at Logan Health, and Alisha Ellis, MSN, RN, OCN®, CHPN, BMTCN®, Staff Nurse and Educator in the Bone Marrow Transplant and Hematology Unit at Franciscan Health, presented an engaging session on how to Capture Your Audience With Innovative Education. Afterwards, they spoke with Oncology Data Advisor to continue their conversation and provide further expertise on how implement creative educational resources into practice, for both patients and providers.  

Oncology Data Advisor: Thank you both for joining us. Leah, can you tell us a little bit about the telehealth interventions that you’ve implemented for patients as a result of the pandemic?

Leah Scaramuzzo, MSN, RN, MEDSURG-BC, AOCN®: Originally, our nursing staff was providing one-on-one patient education for new patients in the infusion area. As COVID hit, we recognized the need to decrease the amount of patient encounters, including contact with other patients, families, and staff. We worked with our telehealth department and our marketing department to incorporate teaching via our telehealth platform.

Oncology Data Advisor: When you were incorporating this into your practice, what surprised you the most about how it turned out?

Leah Scaramuzzo, MSN, RN, MEDSURG-BC, AOCN®: The first thing that surprised us the most is that we had an opportunity to look back at the current practice, which we hadn’t done prior. The educational content staff provided to patients was not standardized. Each nurse provided different educational content, different materials, and different amounts. Often there was inconsistent terminology and medical jargon used during their interaction. Nursing staff also shared that patients were in information overload.

It was also surprising that the teach-back method was not being incorporated into these patient education sessions.

Oncology Data Advisor: What were some of the other barriers that you faced in implementing this, and how did you overcome them?

Ms. Scaramuzzo: Some of the other barriers really happened at our second COVID surge when nursing staff identified the increased frequency of in-person teaching rather than telehealth. We realized that our schedulers were booking the patients as in-person visits again.We met with the schedulers to identify what barriers and obstacles we were facing. We quickly learned that stereotyping was occurring, including age of the patient: older patients were thought to be less likely to use technology. We shared with the schedulers that patients had the ability to download and use the virtual health platform from their phones, and many are already familiar with using apps as well as using phones for video calls.

Oncology Data Advisor: For nurses who are interested in implementing similar programs, where can they go for more information and resources?

Ms. Scaramuzzo: Their virtual health, health information technology, or marketing departments, depending on what’s available at your organization.

Oncology Data Advisor: Thanks for sharing all of this. So, Alisha, how do you think that these platforms and these tools that you mentioned in your presentation have aided education for nurses themselves?

Alisha Ellis, MSN, RN, OCN®, CHPN, BMTCN®: These tools really made the nursing education much more practical to access when needed. If we did a program a few months ago, and then time goes on, they might forget about it and get hazy. Then they actually need that information, but it’s not as fresh. This technology allows nurses to get that information when and where they need it. It’s readily available at their fingertips.

Oncology Data Advisor: With the different types of platforms that you’ve used, which one do you think is your favorite?

Ms. Ellis: Probably QR codes, just because of how versatile they are. There are so many different things that you can do with them. For example, you can use QR codes for information rules and procedure, making it that much more accessible. There are just so many different things that you can do. I don’t think we’ve even tapped the surface of all of the creative ways we can use them.

Oncology Data Advisor: For nurses who are interested utilizing platforms like this, where can they go for more information?

Ms. Ellis: There’s a lot of information on things like YouTube or Pinterest; they have great tutorials. A lot of times you’ll find something on Pinterest that will lead you to an educator vlog, and they’ll give you an idea that you’re able to use. The ONS Communities forum is always sharing ideas. Sometimes you find something that doesn’t fit your purposes right at the moment, but you hang on to that idea. Then later when you have something that will fit for you, you can modify it for your needs. There’s just so much out there.

About Ms. Scaramuzzo and Ms. Ellis

Leah Scaramuzzo, MSN, RN, MEDSURG-BC, AOCN®, is the Nursing Director for Oncology Clinical Development at Logan Health in Kalispell, Montana. She also has experience as an Associate Director of Nursing and Patient Education and as an Oncology Nurse Educator, and she has published multiple nursing practice quality and improvement projects across the nation.

Alisha Ellis, MSN, RN, OCN®, CHPN, BMTCN®, is a Staff Nurse Educator in the Bone Marrow Transplant and Hematology Unit at Franciscan Health in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has a history of nursing experience in bone marrow transplant, hematology, oncology, and hospice, with the last two years as a clinical educator. Additionally, she has a passion for helping educate other nurses about practical technology for better educational development in the nurse work force.

For More Information

Scaramuzzo L & Ellis A (2022). Capture your audience with innovative education. Presented at: 47th Annual ONS Congress.

ONS Communities (2022). Available at:

Transcript edited for clarity. Any views expressed above are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily represent those of Oncology Data Advisor. 

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