To help with this process, many oncology clinics now offer a “Nurse Navigator” service to eliminate some of the confusion, provide guidance and reduce the overall stress and anxiety for everyone involved in the care and treatment of a cancer patient. A Nurse Navigator can help patients and their support groups answer important questions and gain critical understanding of terminology, resources and the disease itself. They have the vital job of educating patients and loved ones, helping to educating family members so that patients do not have to make tough treatment decisions alone. Nurse Navigator can also assist patients navigate the maze of treatment and post-treatment options, and offer them support when they need it the most.
Nurse Navigators are case managers and a point of reference that cancer patients and families can use when they have any questions. Nurse Navigators help explain the diagnosis, give information about side effects and different ways of treating them, help schedule appointments, tests and procedures, and help establish a support network through family and community resources. Nurse Navigators can help the patients find both social and financial assistance, as well, and even work on estate or life care planning. While doctors focus on the best course of medical treatment for the patient, a Nurse Navigator can be there to listen to the patient. These nurses are a true source of comfort during hard times.
As highly trained specialists in their field, Nurse Navigators provide so much more to patients than just oncology nursing assistance. They help bring together information and resources to give cancer patients the best treatment possible. The training to become a Nurse Navigator goes beyond nursing school and nursing certifications; it requires a love of patients facing an illness that affects a wide range of aspects in life, as well as those closest to the patient. Through support, knowledge and an empathy unlike any other, Nurse Navigators may be one of the best assets in the the fight against cancer.