The Royal Marsden

A learning process

At The Royal Marsden, we offer education programmes for junior doctors from the UK and all over the world, as well as investing in the development of all our staff – clinical and non-clinical – to ensure they achieve their maximum potential.
Multidisciplinary Team and Waiting List Manager Jennifer Hunt at work

Multidisciplinary Team and Waiting List Manager Jennifer Hunt at work


staff granted study leave support in 2014/15

As one of the world’s leading cancer centres, The Royal Marsden has shared its knowledge of cancer diagnosis, treatment and research through education programmes for the past 160 years. Today, we are proud to offer in-house training courses and educational opportunities – as well as study leave and financial support – to all of our staff to continue their professional development, whichever field they work in.

Clinical skills development

The Royal Marsden offers a world-renowned education programme for healthcare professionals who want to develop their knowledge and skills in cancer care. Every year, the Trust employs more than 200 junior doctors from across the UK and the world. All junior doctors receive a budget from local education and training boards and The Royal Marsden for personal study leave, and are given time to attend conferences and courses to further their education and development.

And, through The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) library, they also have access to exceptional educational resources such as books and journals, both at the ICR campus in Sutton and online.

“It is absolutely fundamental that the education we offer our junior doctors is valuable, appropriate and robust in order for them to deliver safe and effective patient care,” says Dr Gary Wares, Consultant in Critical Care Medicine and the Director of Medical Education at The Royal Marsden. “They are the future generation of consultants and we want to make sure they have a productive and beneficial experience while training here.”


members of The Royal Marsden’s non-medical staff are studying at degree or postgraduate level

To this end, The Royal Marsden has access to the Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre in Chelsea, a specialist medical education and training facility that aims to disseminate knowledge from experts at the forefront of cancer and cardiovascular care. To share good practice, the education faculty is drawn from both The Royal Marsden and the Royal Brompton Hospital.

Students at the centre are trained via medical simulation, which incorporates the use of human patient simulators in a simulated or real healthcare environment.

“Simulation gives individuals and multidisciplinary teams the opportunity to practise high-risk, low-frequency events or learn procedural skills within a safe environment,” says Dr Wares. “They can repeat a procedure, learn from mistakes, fine-tune techniques and master clinical protocols designed to improve outcomes – all before undertaking this on a patient.”

Professionals such as physicists, biomedical scientists and pharmacists also organise journal clubs to critically evaluate articles published in academic literature, in-house teaching, and access to external courses to support their continuing personal and professional development. Consultants also receive study leave and can now sign up to the new Faculty Development Programme – a series of workshops aimed at giving consultants the supervision skills to help support and develop their trainee junior doctors.


in-house clinical courses are run by the Professional Development and Clinical Education teams

The Royal Marsden School

As the UK’s largest dedicated provider of specialist cancer education, The Royal Marsden School has a reputation for excellence. A wide range of cancer and palliative care courses are tailored to meet the needs of healthcare professionals. The School has also designed a specific programme for staff in community services who are new to community nursing roles. Participants who want to take their studies further can also complete graduate and post-graduate programmes.

“Education leads to excellent patient care, and our aim is to improve patient outcomes and experience by providing enjoyable and challenging learning opportunities for our students,” says Dr Catherine Wilson, Head of School. “The School is an amazing resource that makes a big difference to The Royal Marsden’s ability to recruit staff.”

There is also a Health Service Research infrastructure to support non-medical staff undertaking research within the Trust, which includes mentorship and supervision, research coaching and The Royal Marsden London Doctoral Seminar Series.

In total, 21 nurses and allied health professionals at the hospital have a PhD or clinical doctorate, including Chief Nurse Dr Shelley Dolan and Chief Operating Officer Dr Liz Bishop.

Investing in staff

The Royal Marsden offers all staff the chance to sign up to in-house courses – on subjects such as IT, presentation skills, communicating assertively and leadership – to support their personal development. The Trust is also one of the first to introduce the Care Certificate for healthcare support workers. Clinical staff are supported in their personal and professional development through programmes to meet specific needs, from dementia to children’s sleep problems.

But all staff can apply for study leave and financial support when undertaking a relevant degree, masters, PhD and other higher education courses or conferences.

“We recognise that investing in our staff is crucial to providing an excellent standard of care for patients, and that this is what makes The Royal Marsden unique,” says Nina Singh, Director of Workforce. “We want all staff – clinical and non-clinical – to be able to develop within their roles and maximise their talents and skills."

Case study: Jennifer Hunt

Multidisciplinary Team and Waiting List Manager

Jennifer joined The Royal Marsden in 1998 as a medical secretary and undertook numerous courses to develop her career, including an NVQ Level 3 in Business Administration, the AMSPAR Level 2 Award in Medical Terminology and Open University postgraduate Professional Certificate in Management, and is studying for the OU Professional Diploma in Management.

“The consultants that I worked for were really encouraging and supportive of me furthering my education within the Trust,” Jennifer says. “I’ve jumped at every education and development opportunity. It’s made a huge difference to my life and given me confidence in my abilities – completing these courses is not something that I would have considered doing before coming here. I’m now doing the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson leadership programme, which will lead to a masters.”

Case study: Sarah Stapleton

Clinical Nursing Research Fellow

Sarah joined The Royal Marsden in 1998 as a staff nurse and began an oncology degree at The Royal Marsden School. “At that time, it was difficult to get access to courses,” she says. “The Royal Marsden was one of the few places offering a degree in oncology, so that attracted me.”

Sarah joined the Drug Development Unit (DDU) in 2001 as a research nurse, then helped set up the Oak Ward as a ward sister and matron. She completed a masters part-time and, as Clinical Nursing Research Fellow in the DDU, is now studying for a PhD.

“The DDU ran clinical trials to find better cancer treatments,” Sarah says. “But I also wanted to generate a nursing research culture within the unit and to have nurses participating as researchers, with the aim of improving the care we offer our patients.

“It’s important that nurses are offered opportunities to develop their education — it’s what makes The Royal Marsden so special. Most of the nurses here have done further education in oncology and are highly qualified and knowledgeable — education is absolutely vital to maintain that level of expertise.”

Case study: Dr Martin Rooms

Clinical Fellow in Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine

Dr Rooms joined The Royal Marsden in 2012 as a trainee anaesthetic registrar. He then continued his training at University College Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital, before returning to The Royal Marsden in 2015 in his current role.

“As a trainee at The Royal Marsden, my department was hugely supportive of me using my study leave to go on relevant courses,” says Dr Rooms. “You learn so much at The Royal Marsden because you are exposed to patients other centres wouldn’t treat.

“Now, I’m involved with study sessions for pre-assessment nurses and critical simulation scenarios within theatres, which helps anaesthetists, surgeons and theatre staff identify areas that we can work on.”