The following article features coverage from the ONA 2019 Navigation Summit. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage.

PHILADELPHIA — Effective communication is a central oncology nurse navigator competency, stressed Deborah Christensen, MSN, APRN, AOCNS, OCN, of Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City, Utah, in her presentation at the 2019 Oncology Nurse Advisor (ONA) Navigation Summit.

Addressing an audience of oncology nurse navigators, most of whom were in their current role for 1 year or less, Ms Christensen, an oncology nurse navigator with 11 years of experience, dissected the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS)’s Nurse Navigator Core Competencies, defined as care coordination, communication, education, and professional role development.

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The interactions between the patient and the nurse navigator are patient-centered touch-points, and Ms Christensen emphasized their importance to effective communication in creating a connection between the patient and the navigator, and facilitating care coordination and patient education, in particular.

Communication strategies included motivational interviewing, crucial conversations, and active listening. Motivational interviewing is “collaborative conversations that you have with the patient where they come up with their own strategies for success,” Ms Christensen explained. The acronym OARS describes the process: Open-ended questions, Affirming and supporting, Reflective listening, and Summarizing.

The following communication tips can facilitate assessment of barriers to care and identify resources. Ms Christensen suggests navigators ask open-ended questions so patients have to explain things in their own words. For example, an effective early question is, “What more do I need to know about you that can help me to successfully move you through the treatment continuum?”

“If you develop an effective relationship with a patient early on, they will tell you [what their patient-level barriers/resources are],” she explained.