Although not always possible, if you have the opportunity to meet with your patients “face-to-face,” it will greatly benefit you and the patient. Is the patient alone? If not, who is with them? What was their body habitus? These questions can only be answered with “eyes on” observations.

Ms Christensen emphasized the importance of managing patient expectations by stating the purpose and timeframe of each meeting upfront.

In educating her patients about their plan of care, she described her role of nurse navigator as a “translator who translates medical knowledge into friendly content.”

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“One thing we have that’s worked really well, and I suggest you do this as a new navigator, is to have someone [another navigator] come in and listen to you,” she advised.

Ms Christensen urged nurse navigators to develop a system where they systematically track and document their interactions with patients.  One recommendation for facilitating communication between clinical team members is to use a modified SOAP note: the “S” and “O” represent situation (eg, why patient was seen, diagnosis) and observation; the “P” is for plan, for the navigator as well as the patient.

Continued professional development can be achieved by contributing to the creation of institution-specific standards of work (ie, standard operating procedures [SOPs]) for oncology patient navigation, and through active involvement in research related to patient navigation.

“If you are new to navigation, I cannot stress enough [that you should] collect data. That is how we grew our navigation program.” Ms Christensen suggested keeping research questions simple, such as “How many days from diagnosis to navigation?” or “How many days from diagnosis to treatment with and without navigation?” Nevertheless, she cautioned, metrics are just numbers if you don’t have a plan.

She described navigation as “the hub and all resources as the spokes,” stressing the importance of forming internal and external networks, including financial counselors, pastoral care, speech, and physical therapy. “Knowing these people by name can establish good internal relationships,” she noted.


Christensen D. So you’re a new navigator … now what? Oral presentation at: 2019 ONA Navigation Summit; June 13-15, 2019; Philadelphia, PA.