28 March 2022

2022 Middleton Scholar to focus on cancer and ageing

Erin McLennan, a Clinical Nurse at Icon and 2022 recipient of the Middleton Scholarship, speaks here about her work on cancer care particularly in the ageing population. 

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Since its launch in 2018 at UICC’s World Cancer Congress, the Middleton Scholarship, awarded by UICC partner Icon Group and personally funded by Icon Group CEO Mark Middleton and his family, has continued to provide unique professional development opportunities for Icon employees.

The scholarship is open to all current Icon employees and the successful candidate is invited to attend the UICC World Cancer Congress. In the lead-up to the Congress, the winning applicant will also be invited to participate in a UICC Master course, which offers a unique opportunity to acquire specialised knowledge and skills both in cancer control and non-cancer fields. Furthermore, they will receive an opportunity to chronicle their learnings with the company and beyond and have a chance to connect with scholarship alumni to leave a lasting legacy.

Erin is based in Brisbane, Australia, and has a Bachelor of Nursing from Queensland University of Technology 2012, a Graduate Certificate in Cancer Nursing from Queensland University of Technology 2014 and a Masters in Healthcare Leadership (with distinction) from Southern Cross University 2021.

She has worked in a co-funded position between Icon and the Mater Private Hospital as a Clinical Nurse with the priority of streamlining efficiency and patient flow between the two entities as well as decreasing inpatient length of stay. She is particularly passionate about caring for older adults with cancer and researching how oncology nursing can improve patient support and care.

In her acceptance speech, Erin expressed excitement at the opportunity to attend the World Cancer Congress in Geneva in October 2022, along with the Middleton Scholars from 2020 and 2021, Alicia Moo and Darien Montgomerie, who couldn’t attend UICC events during the pandemic. She is also looking forward to participating in some of the UICC’s Master courses and networking with individuals that she may not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet. Erin is the first nurse at Icon to be awarded the Middleton Scholarship, offering the opportunity to elevate the profile and status of the nursing profession. 

What do you believe is your primary contribution to the mission of Icon Group?

As one of the inaugural Cancer Care Coordinators (CCC) at Icon, I have played an integral role in the development of the CCC service and its continued evolution to ensure we consistently meet the needs of our patients. 

I have worked exclusively in cancer care for ten years and have a particular interest and passion for our older patient cohort. In addition to my CCC role, I am a member of the Cancer Nurses Society of Australia (CNSA’s), Older Persons with Cancer Specialist Network Committee. The committee meets monthly to discuss the unique challenges that older people with cancer face and what our priorities as clinicians should be to improve outcomes for this patient group. 

Each day I strive to provide the very best holistic care and address any challenges in partnership with our patients. Across the scope of psychological and financial struggles, to allied health needs and preparing for end-of-life care, I do my best to support our patients every step of the way. 

With my passion and initiative, I have partnered with groups within our community to raise funds to support patients undergoing cancer treatment. For example, Sommerville House (a Brisbane Girls Secondary College) and the Brookside Ladies Club, raised funds this year that enabled me to purchase nearly AUD 1,000 (approx. USD 750) of pre-paid patient parking tickets, helping to ease the financial burden that some of our patients face. I look forward to continuing to grow these community connections and their support for Icon and our patients.

How do you consider the importance of Icon’s Partnership with UICC?

As an international leading provider of cancer care, it is paramount that Icon partners with groups that afford opportunities to share and gain knowledge and expertise on a scale that can impact cancer care globally. Our partnership with UICC does just that, while also enabling the promotion of Icon and our interests in cancer control at a global health scale.

Of particular interest to me is the work that UICC is doing within ageing and cancer. The organisation is committed to raising awareness of how to best prepare healthcare systems to deal with the unique challenges that the increasing ageing population will bring to our hospitals. This is an area of work that resonates deeply with me and is an area of improvement on which I believe we could collaborate with the UICC, to help address the challenges faced in our everyday practices and find solutions. 

As we strive to deliver the best possible cancer care I believe our partnership with UICC allows for ongoing review and improvement of our practices which will positively impact patient experiences and outcomes across all areas of cancer care. 

What impact do you think winning the scholarship will have for you?

I believe the Middleton Scholarship will help me achieve my goals of being part of the global cancer care conversation, building my knowledge base, expanding my experiences and developing both professionally and personally.  This scholarship also provides the opportunity to combine my clinical experience and leadership skills to directly improve patient outcomes. 

I consider myself a leader and role model for the nurses in my team. As the first nurse at Icon to be awarded this scholarship, I feel extremely privileged and grateful not only for me personally and professionally, but also for my team. This opportunity will help to elevate the profile and status of nurses across Icon and I hope through my experience I can encourage more nurses to seek professional development opportunities and continue to upskill for the benefit of our patients. 

I am mother to three children, aged 11, 6 and 4. Leading by example and being a source of inspiration for my children is very important to me and this is what continues to drive my achievements and success.  I hope that the impact of being a Middleton Scholar will be felt by my entire family and help me to showing my children what can achieve when you set your mind to something and “dare to be great”.  

What do you hope to achieve above all else during your year as Middleton Scholar? 

As I said to our CEO, Mark Middleton: “I would like to raise the profile of nurses; the covid pandemic highlighted the tenacity of our nurses at Icon Group.  I would like to use this platform to try and make a difference for our nurses.  To take ideas from my nursing team and use the connections that I make through my year to see if I can make a difference. I am so grateful and looking forward to all the opportunities this scholarship will provide.”
Mark Middleton adds, “Each year we have such incredibly deserving team members apply for the scholarship, it’s always a difficult decision for the judging panel but Erin’s application was a standout. She is a great example of the calibre of our nursing profession, and I have no doubt she will inspire nurses everywhere with what she will achieve in her scholarship year.” 

Discover the past recipients of the Middleton Scholarship

2018: Courtney King

2019: Rhys Fitzgerald

2020: Alicia Moo

2021: Darien Montgomerie

Last update

Monday 05 September 2022

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