The role of the nurse navigator in helping patients through the trajectory of their journey from diagnosis to treatment to survivorship has evolved, and in many settings, the nurse navigator has become a key component of a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care.
At the 2015 Oncology Nursing Society meeting, Harold P. Freeman, MD, (pictured), Founder and President of Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute, described the establishment of the first patient navigation institute for patients with cancer in the United States.
“ONS recognized that navigation services can be delegated to trained nonprofessionals and/or volunteers, and should be supervised by nurses and social workers. Ongoing training will be needed for these volunteers. They need to learn how to talk to people with cancer,” said Jean Sellers, RN, MSN, Administrative Clinical Director, University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chapel Hill, at the 2015 Oncology Nursing Society meeting.
Although planning for survivorship care is recognized as an important part of the continuum of cancer care, end-of-treatment summaries (TSs) and survivorship care plans (SCPs) are not universally provided to cancer patients, even at centers of excellence. That situation is about to change over the next few years, however, because the Commission on Cancer (CoC) says that these plans will be mandatory by 2015.
With 12 million cancer survivors in the United States and looming shortages of oncologists and PCPs [primary care physicians], the needs of cancer survivors can fall through the cracks,” stated Katherine S. Virgo, PhD, MBA, director of health services research at the American Cancer Society, during a presentation at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.