Royal Marsden staff on a learning curve – meet our Fellows

We’ve heard from the next generation of cancer specialists at The Royal Marsden about their research and how they are aiming to enhance and refine patient treatment and care.

Funded by supporters of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, Pre-Doctoral Research Fellowships allow nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals to carry out a one or two-year research project to deliver improvements for cancer patients.

Read more from them below.

Jurga’s look at ‘chemo communication’

Clinical Pharmacist Jurga McLean is undertaking a two-year fellowship that aims to help improve the way we talk to patients about chemotherapy. Jurga noted that some patients can struggle with taking their oral cancer treatment correctly. She aims to make sure that information about cancer treatments is relayed to patients in a way that they understand.

“Oral chemotherapy is often given in complex regimens, so good communication from healthcare teams is essential to ensure patients receive the best possible results from their treatments,” says Jurga.

A patient sitting in a hospital room talking to two healthcare professionals who are smiling and listening to them intently

“We may see patients for whom English isn’t their first language, or other patients who don’t have the confidence to ask questions if they are unsure about their chemotherapy regimen. We have a diverse population of patients and we want to ensure that information about cancer treatments is relayed to all in a way that they understand.”

“Some patient groups – such as those who are fasting for religious reasons – may also need a specific kind of support from pharmacy teams, so tailoring the chemotherapy information to their needs is important.”

Headshot of a person standing in a room with pharmacy medications filed away in drawers on the wall.

Engaging with patients, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, Jurga hopes her findings can be incorporated into pharmacist education and help to benefit cancer patients in the UK and beyond.

“I really want to involve patient representatives within my project,” says Jurga, “so we can address their needs, identify any barriers they face and change practice.

Andreia’s research into after-care aid

Andreia Fernandes, who has been the Lead Nurse for Gynaeoncology at The Royal Marsden since 2019, investigated the way patients are monitored following treatment for gynaecological cancer.

Headshot of a nurse wearing a blue shirt and purple lanyard

She captured patients’ lived experiences and reviewed international guidelines for follow-up treatment.

She says: “What I like most about research is how it demands collaborative work by a myriad of experts, including patients, to ensure the success and true impact of a project.”

Andreia will be applying for PhD after finishing her Pre-Doctoral Research Fellowship, which was generously funded by Lady Garden Foundation.

Martin’s Fellowship on pain relief

Martin Galligan completed his Pre-Doctoral Research Fellowship at The Royal Marsden in 2022 on health professionals’ understanding and approach to cancer-related pain.

Headshot of a man in a white shirt and glasses, with a sign behind him that says 'The Royal Marsden School'

This enabled him to embark on a PhD, and he is also a Lecturer Practitioner at The Royal Marsden School, teaching health professionals from The Royal Marsden, other NHS trusts, private hospitals and primary care settings to become advanced clinical practitioners.

He says: “The Fellowship allowed me to immerse myself in my passions, with the aim of improving patient care and surrounding cancer-related pain. I would encourage everyone to think about applying for a fellowship so they can be the change they want to see.”

Machine power: Ailín’s Robotic Surgery Fellowship

Launched in 2017, this fellowship provides the opportunity for surgeons to be trained to operate on patients using the Charity-funded da Vinci surgical robots. This is where a surgeon uses a control console to manoeuvre robotic arms to carry out the surgery, and the fellowship trainees use simulated training consoles.

Ailín Rogers completed her Robotic Surgery Fellowship at The Royal Marsden and is now a Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at the Mater Hospital in Dublin.

A doctor sitting down next to a da Vinci Xi robot, with a team of doctors behind her in blue overalls and masks working robotic equipment

She says: “The Royal Marsden’s robotic programme has made an incredible difference to me. I use the skills I gained to improve the lives of cancer patients across Ireland.

“The programme was really beneficial in teaching me to operate across multiple tumour types.”

Help us train more of tomorrow’s leaders at The Royal Marsden

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