Navigation programs continue to flourish in the oncology setting and expand into the chronic disease space. As navigation continues to grow and evolve, the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) is committed to providing professional development opportunities. Further, to foster continued growth, it is imperative that navigators continue to keep up with the current evidence-based standards and then mentor those new to the profession.
Navigators have a unique role in the healthcare space. They blend oncology care knowledge with enhanced communication skills, plus a business mindset that often propels them into a variety of settings in their professional life. The navigator’s specialized skill set warrants an all-encompassing professional development strategy.
Professional development can take place in many different capacities, such as research, public speaking, authorship, networking, continuing education, leadership roles, and knowledge enhancement, among others. Benefits of professional development include increasing knowledge, confidence, and credibility; staying current with qualifications and healthcare trends; increasing salary opportunities; and opening doors to future career changes.
Mentorship programs represent one tactic to address these areas of professional development. A well-planned mentorship program is valuable for the mentor and the mentee, as it allows the seasoned navigator to recall and relate what they have learned and transfer that knowledge and expertise in a personal way so it can be readily absorbed by individuals who are ready to grow. For the mentor, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate leadership. For the mentee, it’s a steppingstone to future leadership. Through professional development and mentorship initiatives, navigators of all disciplines can achieve personal and professional growth that benefits the healthcare system and ultimately patients.
The BOLD Mentorship Academy
AONN+ recognizes the need for professional development specific to navigators. To this end, AONN+ launched the Building Oncology Leadership & Development (BOLD) Mentorship Academy. The initiative is available to all AONN+ members: nurses, patient navigators, social workers, advanced practitioners, administrators, and other healthcare professionals supporting the navigation role. The BOLD Mentorship Academy is a twofold program that consists of an online resource repository with education and resource tools as well as a mentorship program that connects mentors with protégés.
The program is designed based on results of the 2022 pilot mentorship program.1 When surveyed, all pilot study participants stated the program encouraged them to engage with AONN+ for future professional development opportunities, with 66% claiming the mentorship program helped their career enhancement, 33% stated it helped with leadership opportunities, and another 33% declaring it helped with formal education. All participants stated that this program increased their knowledge, and over 83% stated this program had affected their overall career growth.
Are You Ready to Be Bold?
Whether you are new to navigation or a seasoned professional, we all play a role in developing the future of navigation. AONN+ encourages all members to “Be Bold” and register for the BOLD Mentorship Academy.
BOLD Mentorship Academy
Quotes from pilot program participants:
Our navigation practice and effectiveness have been improved tremendously with input from my mentor. I was able to gain confidence in my decisions while growing our program and setting expectations for navigators.
—BOLD Pilot Mentee
I was challenged to mentor a nurse navigator. She was highly interested in program development and growth, which made our pairing ideal, as I was able to use my 15-year program development experience and local, regional, and national overview of navigation to help meet her inquiries.
—BOLD Pilot Mentor
I was floundering before I found this program as we are introducing the nurse navigation model to our organization. This program is amazingly beneficial to anyone transitioning to nurse navigation practice.
—BOLD Pilot Mentee
- Henderson J, Gentry E. A BOLD new world: developing the future of navigation. Journal of Oncology Navigation & Survivorship. 2022;13(10):314.