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Part of that plan is an oncology nurse navigator, a nurse who will help "navigate" the patient and their family through all the medical and social services available, information, and education that can sometimes be overwhelming during a cancer journey.
"I see nurse navigators as the hub of a wheel, and all these different areas are the spokes of the wheel," said Angeline Sargent, RN, Intermountain Healthcare. "We make sure none of the spokes are broken, so the wheel can turn smoothly to get hte patient where they need to go."
An oncology nurse navigator is a professional nurse with oncology-specific clinical knowledge who specializes in caring for people with cancer. They communicate with patients and their families helping them understand the disease, their treatment plan, and coordination of care – maximizing quality and patient safety.
"The doctor talks about it, but the nurse reinforces the education so the patient understands symptom management, how to take things appropriately. They work work surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, dieticians, palatine care, home health -- all these different things," said Sargent.
Sargent explains treatment options an oncology navigator helps:
- Can coordinate tests and appointments
- Help provide management of medication
- Discusses the emotional impact of the disease
- Reinforces patient education on treatment decisions/processes
- Informs patients about clinical trial availability
- Helps facilitate communication between all members of the healthcare team, the patient, and the patient's family
- Promotes collaboration in cancer treatment
- Provides a personal touch and individualized approach in assessing patient's needs
- Serves as a support for patients – being available to answer questions
- Links patients to support groups and other valuable resources
"We help them with their anxiety and the stress because we know it is super emotional," adds Sargent. "It is really hard to take it all in."
Patient navigation is not new but is gaining prominence, to the extent that it's often now a requirement for major oncology accreditation.
These requirements are not the only reason nurse navigator programs are growing across the country. Studies have also proven the clinical benefits, which include increased screening rates, reduced broken appointments, more timely follow-ups, and overall improvements in patient satisfaction.
For more information about oncology nurse navigators and Intermountain Healthcare's Cancer Center programs, visit https://intermountainhealthcare.org/medical-specialties/cancer-care.
About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system of 25 hospitals, 225 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,600 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in clinical quality improvement and in efficient healthcare delivery. For more information about Intermountain, visit intermountainhealthcare.org, read our blogs, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
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