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Insights into Navigation

In the last edition of the Navigation & Survivorship News, I began a discussion about the elements needed for terminal patients at end of life and to experience a good death. The second element of experiencing a good death is legacy.

This is the first in an 8 part-series about an important topic: helping terminal patients with their end of life. Although we have discussed these elements before, it is worthy of your time to take a look at each of these elements and discuss how nurse navigators can support their patients as they approach end of life.
After a cancer patient dies, we commonly are no longer in touch with the family beyond that of offering our condolences. Several months later, however, is when the true financial picture of what the loved one’s end-of-life expenses really were.
In the latter part of each year, employees are asked to make decisions about the health insurance benefits they wish to select for the coming calendar year. Rarely does someone say, “Gee, I am planning to get cancer this year so I want to be sure to choose carefully which health plan benefit I want.”
We’ve all been there. The number of patients you are expected to navigate keeps increasing without more resources being provided to help you do it well. Simply telling your supervisor that you can’t keep up won’t cut it; nor will saying you need more help. Instead, measure what you are doing by developing an acuity scale for the patient populations you navigate.
All too often cancer centers decide to hire either oncology nurse navigators or hire patient navigators. What would be best for the center and patients is a blending of both professionals. This model of having a nurse and a lay patient navigator can work very well--as long as each of these navigators function within their scope of training, skills, credentialing, and practice requirements.
As you may know, we launched last year the officially certification exam for general oncology nurse navigators. And through AONN+'s  partnership with the George Washington Cancer Center, the patient navigation exam was also launched at the same time. We are about to conduct the beta test for a thoracic navigation certification.
Whether your manager meets with you monthly, semi-annually, or annually to discuss your performance evaluation, you need to take it upon yourself to decide what your performance and professional goals should be beforehand.
Many cancer patients practice complementary or alternative medicine, and don’t even know it. They take extra vitamins, get acupuncture, use various herbs, etc. Though such things may seem harmless, they actually may impact the treatments they are receiving that are prescribed by their doctors.
More women for the last 2 decades have chosen to get their careers established first, then plan for a family second--resulting in them having children in their 40s. Though it can be tricky due to their ovaries already slowing down compared to how they functioned in their 20s and 30s, it remains a common theme among career women today.
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