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High-Dose Cytarabine Neurological Assessment Tool


The use of high doses of Cytarabine (HD araC) is associated with neurological changes that can result in long-term complications. According to Dantoni (2013), the incidence of neurotoxicity in patients undergoing chemotherapy with HD araC is 7 percent to 28 percent. The aim of this paper is to discuss the practicum project on the development of a new neurological assessment instrument for patients receiving HD araC.

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The goal of the development of a new tool for neurological assessment of patients undergoing HD araC treatment was successfully accomplished. The instrument completely changes the current nursing practice by providing health care professionals with the ability to quickly recognize neurological symptoms and provide timely intervention for the group of patients who are vulnerable to neurotoxicity.

Prompt recognition of changes in cognitive status and cerebellar function of patients is extremely important because “the incorporation of cytarabine into DNA and RNA may contribute to cerebral toxicity” (BC Cancer Agency, n.d., para. 1). Neurotoxic effects are usually evident 3 to 8 days after the initiation of therapy (BC Cancer Agency, n.d.). The use of the handwriting tool allows nurses to perform the neurological assessment in the clinical setting, thereby reducing the negative health care outcomes of their patients.

The process of working on the project was a positive experience because it allowed me to exercise my research and analytic skills. During the early stages of project development, I found it difficult to allocate reasonable timescales for the anticipated delivery. However, after establishing all research activities that had to be performed, I realized that my knowledge of scientific research tools and methods would help me to successfully finish the project cycle. I also knew that the two SMART goals were aligned with Baptist Health of South Florida’s culture of “generosity, compassion and commitment to clinical and service excellence” (Baptist Health of South Florida, n.d., para. 2).

Furthermore, the international reputation of the hospital attracts approximately 12, 000 patients from Latin America and Caribbean; therefore, I was happy to develop a tool that could help to preserve a high standing of the health center (Baptist Health of South Florida, n.d.). It can be said that the project was a highly rewarding learning experience for me.

A comprehensive overview of the requirements of the practicum project allowed me to evaluate my resources and to compare them to the desired outcomes. I realized that the project was outside of my competency network, which meant that I had to conduct an extensive research on cancer patient populations as well as the use of handwriting tools for the assessment of neurological disorders in order to add breath to my knowledge portfolio (Singh, Mehta, Shah, & Mehta, 2016). Open lines of communication with the faculty were beneficial to the completion of the project.

Face-to-face meetings with a navigator allowed me not only to successfully finish the project but also to contribute value to my organization. The navigator helped me to effectively utilize my skills and knowledge as well as to demonstrate self-direction, which resulted in the absence of delays in the completion of the project (Ciocco, 2015; Sipes, 2015).

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The development of the new neurological assessment instrument for patients receiving HD araC was a positive learning experience for me. I was able to utilize my knowledge and skills as well as to add breath to my competency network.


Baptist Health of South Florida. (n.d.). About Baptist Health South Florida. Web.

BC Cancer Agency, (n.d.). Drug name: Cytarabine

Ciocco, M. (2015). Fast facts for the nurse preceptor: Keys to providing a successful preceptorship in a nutshell. New York, NY: Springer.

Dantoni, T. (2013). High dose Cytarabine: Neurological assessment guide streamlines symptom documentation. 

Singh, G., Mehta, R., Shah, N., & Mehta, R. (2016). Handwriting change as a psychiatric symptom. The International Journal of Medical and Dental Sciences, 5(1), 1075-1077.

Sipes, C. (2015). Project management for the advanced practice nurse. New York, NY: Springer.

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