Cancer care requires a multidisciplinary approach, involving every member of the team to utilize their unique knowledge, skillsets, and experience. An individualized approach must be taken for each patient, as they all experience different barriers in the healthcare system. We must work together with those on our team, from other facilities, and other organizations, to provide optimal and inclusive care.
AONN+ spoke with Penny Daugherty, RN, MS, OCN, ONN-CG, Oncology Nurse Navigator at Northside Hospital Cancer Institute, AONN+ member, and Co-Chair of the AONN+ Conference Planning Committee, about her experience with AONN+ and the valuable partnerships that can be made with outside organizations.
1. How did you get involved with AONN+?
I was co-editing a textbook on navigation when I first met Sharon Gentry, Program Director of AONN+, who was co-writing a chapter in the book. Sharon asked me to present a breakout session on GYN oncology at the 2013 AONN+ Annual Navigation and Survivorship Conference. The conference was so welcoming. I had been part of other cancer care organizations, but AONN+ was naturally inclusive and every person at the conference made me feel like I was a part of something great.
2. How important is it for cancer care professionals like yourself to work with members from different organizations, whether it’s a different association or healthcare institutions?
Partnerships are so important. I work in a very big cancer center and we serve the entire state of Georgia. Patients come to us from all over for different specialists and clinical trials. If you have good partners outside your organization, you have the ability to connect these patients with others closer to where they live or to address their barriers to care, like financial assistance.
You can also get a sense of how other navigator programs work, especially when it comes to the AONN+ Metrics. By learning about other programs, you learn about evidence-based practice rather than just numbers and statistics.
3. Has AONN+ provided you with the opportunities to collaborate with other cancer care professionals? If so, how?
AONN+ conferences bring so many people together. The structure of the conferences always provides time built in so you can get to know people and mingle with AONN+ leadership. We have implemented several formats into the conferences to encourage people to get to know each other. There was even a moment where people outside nurse and patient navigation, like social workers and financial navigators, felt they wanted to be included more, so we made that happen by inviting their voice to our conference. Our planning has resulted in a conference that caters to a group of people who surround the navigation profession and desire to learn about all the different parts of navigation.
4. Have you worked on any special projects in the last year?
The AONN+ internal leadership asked me, as a GYN navigator, to work on the advisory group of a CME accredited module made by dandelionRX. DandelionRX is creating an educational tool for gynecologic oncologists to improve their communication with and best educate women who have been diagnosed with ovarian and/or endometrial cancer. A collective consortium of people worked on this project to help create a tool that assists communication in a lot of topics that it’s important to get women to talk about. It will help those diagnosed with these cancers be better attended to and taken care of.
You can learn more about the training and free tool here: www.dandelionrx.org.
5. Has your work as co-chair of the Conference Planning Committee allowed you to bring professionals and organizations together and open doors for them to work together?
Being a co-chair requires a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun. My co-chair, Peg Rummel, and I had known each other from an advisory board before we saw each other again at the 2013 Annual Conference. In this role, we get to meet a lot of people who we have asked to speak at AONN+ conferences and create panels of speakers who are magical and help conference attendees to learn and grow. It really expands my horizons to meet all of these people who do so many different things. The Conference Planning Committee is currently accepting applications for new committee members.
6. Why does AONN+ stand out from other organizations?
Many organizations are role-specific. At AONN+, every member of the multidisciplinary care team is equal, everyone has a say, and everyone has a desire to be there with each other. AONN+ conferences allow everyone to feel valued and fulfilled emotionally.
7. What would you say to someone who was thinking of becoming a member of AONN+?
AONN+ is the most incredible organization, and being a part of this organization will you allow you to become a better navigator. The leadership of AONN+ always makes themselves available and they are constantly working in the community and bringing back new information and unique tools to benefit their members. Everyone I’ve met through AONN+, I consider a friend.
Inclusive organizations make people feel respected and valued for who they are as an individual and allows their expertise to be shared for the common good of all members. At AONN+, we believe in arming our members with every tool so they can continue to provide optimal care.
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