Oct. 25, 2022

Nursing assistant professor examines health needs and outcomes of cancer survivors

Q&A with Dr. Colleen Cuthbert, Tier II Canada Research Chair, and final 2022 Food For Thought presenter
Colleen Cuthbert
Colleen Cuthbert

Dr. Colleen Cuthbert, RN NP PhD'17, MN'08, BN'06, is a clinician scientist with clinical practice experience as a nurse practitioner in oncology. Her clinical practice largely focused on follow-up care and symptom management with a keen interest in survivorship issues. She's an assistant professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary and an adjunct assistant professor in the Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Oncology. She holds a Tier II Canada Research Chair in patient and family centered cancer survivorship.

You got your BN in 2006, but within two years completed your MN/NP. What drove you to want to become an NP and so fast? 
"I was always interested in the advanced practice nursing role from the start of my nursing education. There was an opportunity for me to pursue my MN/NP in 2006 through a scholarship that was being offered by the Alberta Cancer Board (now Alberta Health Services - Cancer Care)."

How did you get interested in survivorship? Was there a particular event or patient you met that made you want to go deeper into the topic?  
"I realized through years of interaction with patients and their families that a diagnosis of cancer is life-changing. I also realized that a diagnosis doesn't just end when treatment is over: patients and their families can struggle for a long time afterward with a variety of physical and mental health problems." 

Dr. Colleen Cuthbert (left) and co-investigator Dr. Lin Yang PhD.

Dr. Colleen Cuthbert (left) and co-investigator Dr. Lin Yang PhD.

What does having the Canada Research Chair (CRC) do for your research that you weren’t able to do without it? 
"Having a CRC enables me to have protected time for research and recognition of my expertise in the area of survivorship. Having protected time simply allows me to be more productive and work more effectively in trying to solve the problems cancer patients and their families face. Being recognized as an expert in this area helps me connect more with other high caliber cancer survivorship researchers so we can collectively try to solve the problems that cancer patients and their families face."

How has this research area made a difference to people since you started? 
"One of the biggest impacts I have made so far is my patient engagement/patient-oriented research approach. I have partnered with patients on two different initiatives (a priority setting study to determine top priority research questions in colorectal cancer and a patient and family advisory council). Both of these initiatives have brought the patient voice to my research and will ensure that going forward I am focusing on problems that are most important to cancer patients."

What is your hope for the future? 
"That we can move toward innovative and sustainable ways to support cancer patients and their families living with and beyond cancer."

We are very good at documenting the problem and testing interventions through research, however, there is very little implementation into real world practice or sustainability built in.

"We need to think about sustainability, patient-oriented approaches and innovation right from the start." 

On November 9, join Dr. Colleen Cuthbert for the final talk in our 2022 Food for Thought Breakfast Lecture Series. Dr. Cuthbert will delve into findings from her patient-focused research in cancer survivorship, shedding light on the issues that are most important to cancer patients and survivors and sharing some innovative and sustainable ways to support patients and families that live with, and beyond, cancer.

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022

8 – 8:45 a.m. (MT) - Online