December 2014 Vol 5, No 6

Happy New Year! As 2014 comes to a close and we march into 2015, it is only fitting to hope that you and your family have a happy and healthy new year.
My initial encounter with patients with cancer began at the end of my first year of nursing school. I was assigned to a medical–surgical floor, and was given a patient who had been newly diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer. It was 1975, and our community-based hospital was in the process of creating an oncology service line with the help of a new group of medical oncologists.
Many experienced oncology nurses who are retiring or approaching retirement possess knowledge about oncology patient care that comes from years of experience. They have seen a transition from general oncology to specialties in bone marrow transplant, genetics, hematology, medical oncology, palliative care and hospice, radiation oncology, as well as site-specific and surgical oncology. What used to be a limited number of treatment resources has exploded to multiple new methodologies, many of which are based on specific tumor markers. How does a practice ensure that the knowledge, skills, and abilities of its senior nursing staff are transferred to newer nurses joining the practice?
Nurses serving in the role of navigator can be instrumental in addressing the barriers of timely access to care, implementing interventions to reduce disparities, and improving overall patient satisfaction with cancer treatment. Using 10 primary studies published between 2008 and 2014, this literature review examines the effect of navigator intervention on the continuity of care and on patient satisfaction for those with cancer. The evidence provided by the quantitative and qualitative research studies utilizing a variety of tools supports the positive effect of navigator intervention on continuity of care and the satisfaction of patients during their cancer experience.
Patient navigation has become essential for the care of the oncology patient in a complex healthcare environment; however, the term “navigation” has been used loosely to describe several functions of the role of a patient liaison, social worker, or registered nurse. A navigation program was created recently for patients who were newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
An Interview with Stephen C. Malamud, MD, and Susan K. Boolbol, MD, of Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital
Quite often I am asked what constitutes “good” oncology care. Many people have their opinions; patients, doctors, allied medical professionals, and even health plan administrators like to weigh in on this issue. Those in the industry often use buzzwords—eg, quality, outcomes, and cost—interchangeably, but are they really the same? Unfortunately, no one seems to be in agreement on the answer. Most healthcare professionals know that good oncology care is essential, but without a set of unified standards or distinct definitions on how to measure good care, it is almost impossible for everyone to speak the same language.

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