HCP Grant Recipients

Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is dedicated to supporting Canadian Health Care Professionals (HCPs) who work in the area of neuro-oncology or neuroscience to help people affected by a brain tumour.

The Health Care Professional (HCP) - Professional Development Grants (launched in 2016) provide funding to health care professionals who would like to attend a medical, scientific or professional development conference / workshop. In their words, here’s what this opportunity means to them.

2019 HCP - Professional Development Grant Recipients

Danae Coggins

Danae CogginsI would like to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for their generosity in providing me with an HCP Professional Development Grant to speak at the Canadian Association of Neuroscience Nurses (CANN) Annual Scientific Sessions.

Having just completed my MScN at Western University, I advocated for and created a Clinical Quality Specialist role on the clinical neuroscience’s unit at London Health Sciences Centre. This role was created based on needs verbalized by the nursing staff and leadership as affecting quality and safety of care provided to our neuro patients. Within my new role, I am a champion for patient safety, and have created new guidelines to assist in the care provided to patients in restraints. The guideline supports patient and staff safety as we transition these patients off restraints, which promotes best practices and decreases lengths of stay for those awaiting long-term care or rehabilitation.

Thanks to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s generosity, I can travel to Montreal for the Canadian Association of Neuroscience Nurses (CANN) Scientific Sessions to promote these new guidelines for the brain tumour population. The CANN Scientific Sessions are always enlightening, educational, and important, and my attendance allows me to disseminate national neuro nursing initiatives to enrich the practice of the nurses working with this unique patient population.

Victorine Sikati Foko

Victorine Sikati FokoI would like to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for the Professional Development Grant 2019. This funding will be used to attend the 54th Congress of the Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation (NCSF). The CNSF represents the health care professionals whose focus is on illnesses of the nervous system. The CNSF organizes a 4-day Canadian conference every year, during which health care practitioners take accredited science courses to help them in their continued professional development and in the maintenance of their certification.

I have been a nurse in research in the neurological sciences for 12-years at the Neuro-Outaouais Clinic. We offer help to patients affected by many different neurological illnesses (MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, migraines, brain tumours, etc.) and allow their families to participate in discussions around treatments, treatment options, and symptom management. Presently, I coordinate a clinical trial for patients affected by a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

The information I will receive in the context of this conference will allow me to better administer supportive treatments to people affected by neurological disease. I will be equipped to educate and to support them throughout their illness. I am excited to share the newly-acquired information with the other members of my team in order to improve the care and support of our patients. I am also very excited to meet other health care professionals and share experiences.

Sheila Hunt

Sheila HuntI am very thankful to be a recipient of Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s HCP Professional Development Grant for 2019. I will use this grant to attend the 50th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the Canadian Association of Neuroscience Nurses (CANN) in Montreal in June.

In my role as a Neuro Nurse Educator for the Neurosurgery Education Outreach Network (NEON), I offer neuro education to nurses at my hospital and region. The purpose of this education is to improve the care of brain and spinal cord patients in hospitals with a neurosurgery program, but especially in hospitals without a neurosurgery program. Teaching nurses to recognize signs of patient deterioration or to be confident their patient is doing well improves the safety and experience of the patient if they can remain in their home hospital and the experience of nurses is better when they are equipped with the tools they need to provide care.

Attending the CANN conference will not only add to my knowledge of working with patients who have brain tumours, it will enhance my ability to teach other nurses and provide an opportunity to share information I have learned from my work. I submitted an abstract about a fourth ventricle (ependymal) tumour and it was accepted as an oral presentation. This presentation will highlight the life altering impact that this type of tumour has on the patient’s quality of life with a specific teaching focus on cranial nerve function. I am grateful for this opportunity.

2018 HCP - Professional Development Grant Recipients

Catriona Leckie, RN MN NP CNN(c), Neuro-Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Calgary, Alberta

Catriona Leckie, HCP PD Grant RecipientI would like to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for the HCP Professional Development Grant that will be used towards my attendance at the 23rd Annual Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) Scientific Meeting and Education Day. I have been working as a Nurse Practitioner in Neuro-Oncology for the last 10 years and currently follow most of our Neuro-Oncology patients and their families in a Nurse Practitioner led, early supportive care clinic. This clinic provides patients and their families with ongoing opportunities to discuss their diagnosis, prognosis, treatment options, symptom management, potential rehabilitation needs, community resources available to them and discussions around advance care planning and goals of care. Patients and their families are seen in this clinic on a regular basis throughout their illness trajectory in order to facilitate these conversations. In the past, the SNO conference has provided attendees with a thorough and updated understanding of the principles of clinical Neuro-Oncology, clinical trials, symptom management, palliative care and survivorship. The information gained from attending this conference will improve my ability to provide best supportive care to individuals who have been affected by the diagnosis of a brain tumour, as I will be more informed to educate and support them through their illness trajectory. I look forward to sharing the information I obtain from attending this conference with other members of our team to further improve the quality care and supportive programs we provide. I also look forward to networking with other healthcare professionals specifically interested in the needs of the Neuro-Oncology population to facilitate discussions around ongoing improvements to care and future research ideas. Thank you again, for this opportunity. 

Update: Thanks to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s professional grant, I was able to attend the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) in November 2018. At times I know it can be discouraging for patients, families and healthcare providers, when it comes to discussions regarding treatment options available to brain tumour patients. It was inspiring and encouraging however, to see what is presently being done and learn from an abundant number of dedicated scientists, surgeons, oncologists and allied healthcare providers who continue to work together to help improve quality of life and outcomes for our patients internationally.

Some of the interesting discussions that I was involved in during this meeting included, the complexity of the brain tumour microenvironment, immune based therapies, targetable vulnerabilities, improvement in clinical trials, and palliative care-health outcomes, all of which increased my knowledge and ability to optimize patient care. Discussions around early palliative care supported the approach that we have adopted in Calgary, Alberta. It was encouraging to know that what we have been working on continues to be widely supported and sought after. Suggestions regarding a multidisciplinary approach to palliative care, was also discussed and has led to conversations already at the Tom Baker Cancer Center in Calgary, regarding our supportive care and long-term follow-up clinics with respect to ongoing improvement in patient outcomes. Thanks again to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for their ongoing support!

Emily Drake, BScH, MA, PhD (Student), Health Promotion Consultant, Dartmouth, NS

Emily Drake, 2018 HCP Professional Development Grant RecipientAs the former Director of CancerFightClub, I returned to Dalhousie University to pursue a PhD in Health and study the needs of young adults living with metastatic/advanced cancer. Many of these young adults have a primary cancer diagnosis of the CNS or have a cancer that has metastasized to their brain. There are very few resources nationally and internationally for this population, which is why CancerCon is an important event. CancerCon is Stupid Cancer’s annual international conference. It brings together patients, supporters and healthcare professionals to talk about relative issues to the young adult cancer movement. I have been honoured to be an invited speaker in the past and this coming year. The sessions I have been asked to lead are on social media and for those living with a chronic/metastatic/advanced cancer diagnosis. I am grateful to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for providing me with financial support that will allow me to contribute to this conference and provide important sessions. It will also allow me an opportunity to further my education on relevant issues for young adults living with cancer, contributing back to the PhD and advocacy work that I do. 

Update: Thanks to the generous support I received from Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada I was able to attend CancerCon in April of 2018. This patient focused event had nearly 650 delegates from around the world. While the primary audience was young people living with cancer, other attendees included caregivers, healthcare professionals, non-profit employees and advocates. I had the pleasure of speaking on a social media panel that provided a question and answer period for a packed room of delegates on topics concerning use of social media in the young adult cancer movement. On the second day of the event, I co-led a session focused on connecting patients living with metastatic/advanced cancer with each other and important resources. Other highlights of the event included a session on survivorship in communities of colour and a keynote by Dan Shapiro, Ph.D, Vice Dean, Penn State College of Medicine. Young adults are a marginalized cancer population and programming concerning their unique needs, like CancerCon, is vital to pushing the young adult cancer movement forward.

2017 HCP - Professional Development Grant Recipients

Jonathan Russell, Physiotherapist, IRDP, GF Strong Rehab Centre, Vancouver, BC

Jonathan Russell, HCP Grant AwardeeI would like to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for the HCP Professional Development Grant, which will support my continuing education to improve my care for patients with brain tumours. I am working as a physiotherapist on an Intensive Rehab Day Program at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre primarily with clients who have acquired brain injuries. I plan to use the HCP grant to attend a Basic Bobath course to improve my treatment of individuals with neurological conditions including individuals with brain tumours. The Basic Bobath course includes theoretical foundations and practical sessions to develop handling and clinical reasoning skills. Bobath therapy uses a problem solving approach that helps the client to work towards personal goals considering their clinical presentation. Often clients with brain tumours that attend the Intensive Rehab Day Program have physical impairments that limit their ability to complete daily activities of living and to take part in recreational or vocational activities. Bobath trained clinicians assist clients to improve their postural control, perform selective coordinated movement, and integrate sensory input into their motor control so that the client can better participate in activities with family, friends, and on their own. 

Update: Thank you very much to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for providing the Health Care Professional Grant to assist me in attending a Basic Bobath course in Nov 2017 and April 2018. There were 12 physios who attended the Bobath course with two instructors, which allowed for lots of interaction and specific guidance. We had three weeks of intensive course and clinical work. We were required to complete a written assignment that integrated our course learning in our work with a client. I chose to work with a 32 year old client who had been treated with chemotherapy for metastatic cancer and had suffered a stroke causing hemiplegia. The course helped to improve my assessment, clinical reasoning and treatment skills with this individual and other clients with neurological conditions. I have gained a stronger understanding of the relationship between neurophysiology and my treatment interventions, which has translated to improving the quality of care that I can provide to clients on a daily basis. I appreciate the work that Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is doing to help people with brain tumours, their families and health care professionals. I am grateful for their support of my professional development so that I can better care for clients with brain tumours.

Kelly Boileau RN, BN, IWK, Halifax, NS

Kelly Boileau, HCP Grant Awardee 2017I have worked as a registered nurse in the field of oncology for over 20 years. I have recently taken on the role of the Brain Tumour Nurse Coordinator at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I had worked with brain tumours in the past so I thought I knew the population, but boy was I wrong. I realize I had only touched on the tip of the iceberg. I am so excited to work with this population and broaden my knowledge regarding current treatments and outcomes .The impact of a brain tumour diagnosis on the patient and their family is devastating. It is the lifelong challenging post-treatment side-effects that I have been most surprised about. Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s Professional Development Grant will assist me in attending the second Join the Movement to End Brain Tumours National Conference in Toronto. I see this as an invaluable opportunity for me to navigate within this patient population. I am excited to network with people who share the same goal – to improve the lives of those diagnosed with a brain tumour. I want to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for this opportunity. 

Update: I would like to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for the Health Care Professional (HCP) Development Grant that I received. I used this grant to attend the 2nd annual Join the Movement to End Brain Tumours National Conference in Toronto. This was my first opportunity to witness in person what an amazing Foundation this is. The conference was full of many wonderful speakers and presentations. I am excited to continue my professional relationship with this passionate group. The members are devoted to caring for those whose lives are affected by brain tumours. This group reminds me of a huge extended family. Since working in this field, I had always been confident in referring patients to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s website but now I cannot sing their praises enough. The level of professionalism and knowledge is amazing. What an amazing resource for anyone across Canada to have available to them. 

2016 HCP - Professional Development Grant Recipients

Caitlin Gillan MRT(T) BSc MEd FCAMRT

Caitlin GillanI am currently a radiation therapist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, working primarily with adults and children with brain tumours as the Central Nervous System (CNS) Radiation Therapy site leader. This grant will support me in attending a unique conference in September in the United Kingdom that is focused on novel advanced practice roles, and how radiation therapists can best prepare and position themselves for specialized clinical roles. Knowledge gained through engagement in such a conference, and networking with people from around the world exploring such roles, would allow me to inform the evolution of a potential CNS Advanced Practice role, better aligning expertise and service delivery to optimize care for this patient population. Ontario has been exploring advanced practice for radiation therapists for the past 10 years, and a process for national certification is in development – so the framework and precedent exist - but there is currently no one in an advanced CNS radiation therapy position. While I am at this conference, I will also be giving a presentation about Canada’s approach to certification for advanced practice roles, based on my engagement in the national certification initiative.  

Update: In September 2016, thanks to a professional development grant from Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, I travelled to Sheffield, United Kingdom, to participate in the Leading the Way: International Radiographer Advanced Practice Conference. I am a radiation therapist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, where I collaborate with an incredible interprofessional team in providing radiation therapy to adults and children with brain tumours. I am also involved in a national initiative with the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists, investigating the value and feasibility of advanced practice roles for radiation therapists, given the pressures currently facing the healthcare system. Radiation therapists are ideally positioned to take on additional knowledge, skills, and judgement to optimize patient-centred care in an increasingly complex cancer care model. 

At the conference in the UK, I gave a podium presentation highlighting the innovative approach to certifying advanced practitioners in Canada through intensive virtual oral examinations. I was able to attend valuable sessions that addressed role development, the value of research in advancing evidence-based practice, and various successes and barriers experienced around the world in exploring advanced practice. There were ample opportunities to network with peers from the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, many of whom I remain in contact with through Twitter. It is my hope that the knowledge gained through this experience will put me in good stead as I work to inform further development of advanced practice opportunities, especially in the context of helping those with brain tumours navigate their care journeys. 

Thanks to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for this invaluable experience!

Laura Daly

Laura DalyBrain Tumour Foundation of Canada's professional development grant will assist me in attending the 21st Annual Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) Annual Scientific Meeting and Education Day. The information and skills gained by attending this event will undoubtedly enrich my clinical work with patients, as well as my research in the area of pain and symptom management. I truly appreciate the opportunity provided by this development grant to expand my expertise and knowledge to better serve those affected by brain cancer. I look forward to sharing what I learn at the SNO meeting with the rest of my department team at BC Cancer Agency, contributing to the agency's ability to better assist patient and support members affected by brain cancer.

Update: I was so pleased to be able to attend the Society for NeuroOncology Annual Conference in Scottsdale Arizona in November. The event drew people from around the world, including over 100 Canadians. The event had many wonderful speakers presenting exciting new research and inspiring stories that aided my growth and learning with regard to neurooncology. Highlights included Dr. David Cachia’s presentation on “Interventions for fatigue and cognitive dysfunction in people with gliomas”, as well as the many presentations that aimed to translate research into improved quality of care for patients. The conference was abundant with interesting research related to ethics, palliative care, and quality of life that created wonderful intersections between cutting-edge science and the human experience. I will carry the knowledge and inspiration gained from the many wonderful minds collected at the meeting forward with me, as it will surely assist me in my future work with patients. I want to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for supporting me in participating in this invaluable experience.

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