Sharon Francz, BHA
Executive Director, President, and Co-founder
National Coalition of Oncology Nurse Navigators
2011 was a banner year for the National Coalition of Oncology Nurse Navigators (NCONN), as our membership has continued to grow and we held our 3rd Annual Changing the Face of Cancer Care
Conference. Additionally, with our partnership with OncLive Nursing,
we have been able to provide oncology nurses and nurse navigators with insight and resources through our Oncology Nurse Navigators 101
columns and coverage of our annual conference. Here’s a look back at some of the areas we covered this past year.
From the time of engagement, the navigator is “hand in hand” with the patient, identifying obstacles and barriers that may derail a successful completion of treatment and transition to survivorship. This is the navigator’s role and area of expertise.
Survivorship care plans—individualized survivorship blueprints—are increasingly being used in oncology care. Navigators can be instrumental in educating patients and helping them to develop these plans. Discussions of survivorship care plans should start as soon as a patient is diagnosed with cancer. Find out more
Oncology nurses expend a tremendous amount of energy and concern as they care for patients who may or may not recover from their illness. Compassion fatigue may not happen with the care of 1 patient, but the repeated exposure to oncology patients may lead to the condition.
For the oncology nurse, combating compassion fatigue starts with recognizing the symptoms and making changes that lead to a personal transformation. Develop a personal statement to guide your life, self, and family. Also ask yourself, “Why am I in this profession? What is my mission?”
Nurses with compassion fatigue need to recharge their batteries daily, by committing to such things as exercise and eating healthier. They should also make it a priority to engage with what they value most, which often means connecting with family and friends. Find out more
Consistent with national trends, NCONN is developing a healthcare oncology nurse navigator (ONN) model that provides education and support for the professional nurse navigator.
Apart from the roles of a licensed nurse, the ONN needs to develop competencies to integrate the roles of healthcare promoter, educator, counselor, care coordinator, case manager, researcher, and patient advocate. Hence, education programs for preparing ONNs must ensure that professional nurse navigators are equipped with the essential competencies that enable them to fulfill these roles competently and ethically. Contact NCONN (www.nconn.org
) to receive a copy of the ONN Core Competencies. Find out more
NCONN’s 3rd Annual Conference
NCONN’s 3rd Annual Conference took place from September 8-10 in San Diego, California. ONNs from across the country gathered in the “Golden State” to network, mentor each other, and attend clinical sessions.
Some of the highlights from the conference covered in the pages of OncLive Nursing
and on OncLiveNurse.com
include a discussion with Harold P. Freeman, MD, FACS, on the current and future status of patient navigation, as well as clinical insights in breast cancer, brain cancer, oncofertility, and psychosocial considerations in cancer care.
Navigating Young Adults With Cancer
Cancer in adolescents and young adults (AYAs) is often detected late, and once diagnosed, these patients frequently receive inconsistent treatment and follow-up care.
The needs of young adults with cancer have been overlooked historically, leaving these patients feeling neglected and ignored.
ONNs navigating AYAs require an additional library of resources and a comprehensive understanding of AYA needs. Insurance issues, isolation, and quality-of-life concerns are the top-3 factors to consider when navigating an AYA patient. In all of these areas, assessment comes first and is crucial to successful navigation. Find out more
In 2012, as navigation continues to grow as a necessary component of oncology care, NCONN will continue to offer navigators the resources they need.