The Cancer Patient Navigators of Georgia (CPNG) is a unique statewide organization of people serving people with all types of cancer, at all stages, in all types of settings, with a diversity of education and training and a shared mission. The mission is to connect, educate, and share best practices among patient navigators throughout the state, to reduce barriers, and increase access to services and resources specifically related to cancer, explained Alice Kerber, MN, APRN, ACNS-BC, AOCN, APNG, an oncology clinical nurse specialist at Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Georgia CORE) in a poster presentation at the NCONN Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
In April 2009, the Georgia Society of Clinical Oncology, in collaboration with the Georgia Cancer Coalition, was awarded a state affiliate grant from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to assess the current level of cancer patient navigation resources in Georgia and determine the need for and interest in forming a statewide organization. Survey results revealed interest in both the field and an educational conference. Later that year, more than 100 participants listened to Harold Freeman, MD, as he discussed his navigation model. A steering committee was formed and developed an organization mission, goals, and bylaws during a facilitated retreat.
Since its inception, the Cancer Patient Navigators of Georgia developed and enhanced bylaws, a governing body, a logo, working committees, and a web site in which navigators from across the state are able to share information and resources. As of March 2014, the 296 members include lay navigators, nurses, social workers, community health workers, health educators, physicians, and others. Each of four annual meetings, held in Atlanta, has drawn more than 100 members in attendance. Statewide Lay Navigator Training Modules were developed and implemented in 2012.
An initial survey indicating a need to create a statewide multidisciplinary organization for those who help patients navigate the cancer journey was the beginning of the Cancer Patient Navigators of Georgia. Ongoing surveys of members have guided the development of educational programs on navigation, networking, integrative therapies, and lay navigation. The Cancer Patient Navigators of Georgia will continue to be a source for discussion and implementation of standards and best cancer navigation practices in Georgia and the surrounding region.
Presenter: Alice S. Kerber, MN, APRN, ACNS-BC, AOCN, APNG, Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Georgia CORE); Angela K. Patterson, Vice President, Georgia CORE; Karen M. Beard, CPC, CPCO, Director, Georgia Society of Clinical Oncology (GASCO).