What is an Oncology Nurse Navigator?

Cynthia Maldonado, RN, OCN

Understanding, Professional, Knowledgeable, Care ….when you or a loved one is facing a cancer diagnosis, these are the words you want to hear about your cancer team. That’s exactly what the Oncology Nurse Navigators at Mission Hope Cancer Center deliver to their patients.

Your oncology nurse navigator understands the cancer disease process and helps you “navigate” through services and information, find appropriate medical and social services, and educate you and your family about the entire cancer journey. They collaborate with your multidisciplinary team to allow for timely cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, and increased supportive care across the cancer continuum. In essence, oncology nurse navigators serve as both patient advocates and patient resource guides as they help each person to overcome barriers to optimal care. The navigation of patients with cancer requires extensive knowledge, specialized skills, and good clinical judgment—all of which can improve outcomes.

A cancer diagnosis is a very scary time. Patients may feel alone, unsure and unaware of what is to come. This is a time where patients may feel as if they have lost control or have no control. The Oncology Nurse Navigator will provide autonomy by explaining the journey and making sure that the patient is in control of what is to follow during their treatment.

The Navigation process may begin at the time of an abnormal result or abnormal biopsy result. Patients may reach out to the Oncology Nurse Navigator at Mission Hope for guidance and support of what will be the following steps that need to be taken. The Oncology Nurse Navigator will serve as the patient advocate, and ensure that the patient will have timely care from start to finish.

An Oncology Nurse Navigator not only helps with the collaboration of the multidisciplinary team (doctors, surgeons, social workers, dieticians, physical therapist and more), they are also there for the emotional support of the patient and the family. Empathetic/sympathetic staff who strive to make a difference in your journey through the cancer diagnosis. Compassionate Nurse Navigators will help guide the patient through the healthcare system and help them overcome barriers. They also serve as a facilitator to provide outside community resources that are available.

The goal is to support the patient and reduce cancer morbidity and mortality while attempting to reduce stressors during a time that is already stressful. The Oncology Nurse Navigator is a nurse that has specific qualifications and education in the oncology field. They are knowledgeable nurses ready to assist our patients here at Mission Hope Cancer Center. Call your Oncology Nurse Navigator now at 805-346-3405 for questions and concerns.

HAVE A QUESTION? This weekly column produced by Marian Cancer Care invites you to submit your questions to “Your Cancer Answers” at the following email address mariancancercare@dignityhealth.org