brachytherapy, clinical nurse specialist practice, gynecological cancers, interdisciplinary, intracavitary pelvic implants, quality of life



  1. Duncan, Pamela MSN, RN, CCRN
  2. Mason, Tina M. MSN, ARNP, AOCN, AOCNS
  3. Thirlwell, Sarah MS, MS(A), RN, AOCNS, CHPN


Purpose/Objectives: This article describes the value of a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) team in partnering with interdisciplinary stakeholders to improve care for women with gynecological cancers receiving radiation via intracavitary-interstitial pelvic implants (IPI).


Background: Intracavitary-interstitial pelvic implants can prolong survival but is associated with significant impacts on quality of life. Intracavitary-interstitial pelvic implants is a complex and invasive intervention that requires patients to be immobile for 3 days and creates challenges related to dignity, hygiene, nutrition, pain management, emotional health, skin care, and overall patient satisfaction. The nursing staff shared concerns with their respective CNSs regarding patients' quality of care. Lack of standardized practice/orders and gaps in knowledge created challenges.


Rationale: Clinical nurse specialist practice requires collaborative efforts within the 3 spheres of influence to improve the care of patients receiving IPI therapy.


Description: The CNSs recognized and addressed needs of patients/families, staff, and the organization across the continuum. The team's efforts relied on reflection of nurses' concerns, collaboration, and a unified vision for exceptional care.


Outcomes: This CNS-led initiative was successful in establishing processes to ensure quality care. Improvement in patient care was achieved through creation of standardized order sets, a focused plan of care, and patient/family/staff education. Nurse satisfaction, confidence, and empowerment to provide patient care with dignity and sensitivity have been verbalized.


Conclusion: The CNS team's broad scope of practice, across inpatient, outpatient, and evidence-based practice, is a strength. Key to the team's success was the recognition of challenges and a unified vision to bring together stakeholders to facilitate improvement of care. Future direction includes evaluating nutritional choices and examining psychosocial aspects of the patient's experience. An interdisciplinary nursing grand rounds is planned to highlight the outcomes of this team.


Implications: The leadership of CNS teams with varied scopes is critical to affecting change within the spheres of influence and improving patient care across the continuum.