December 2012 VOL 3, NO 6

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Head and Neck/Neuro-Oncology Navigation

Heather Stern, RN, BSN, CNOR, OCN

Ms Stern described her institution’s navigator program, which includes 8 disease site­–specific navigators (7 RNs and 1 PA), an outreach nurse navigator, a Pacific Islander navigator, a financial navigator, and a social worker.

She discussed the nurse navigator role in general, as well as the head and neck and neuro-oncology multidisciplinary team members and the specifics of head and neck and neuro-oncology navigation, including capturing and assessing patients and coordinating their care, and providing supportive care and survivorship.

She illustrated these phases with case studies. Ms Stern described navigation tools, showing examples of the nurse navigator database that is part of the electronic medical record, which documents information and metrics throughout the patient journey, and a radiation therapy assessment tool.

Take-Home Messages

  • The role of the nurse navigator is multifaceted
  • Multidisciplinary teams are integral to successful treatment of patients
  • Early contact with patients at the time of diagnosis helps establish a supportive relationship
  • Continuous assessment throughout multimodality treatment can reduce treatment days
  • Coordination of care, supportive care, and survivorship care are essential components of navigation
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