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Plus Pointers

Patient navigators should continually be seeking new information that can benefit their patients. This includes the identification, understanding, analysis, and use of resources and services for cancer patients with a myriad of needs.
Patient navigators have a responsibility to stay up-to-date on leading edge evidence-based information and resources. This includes scholarly journal articles, information in popular media outlets, books, and emerging content important to their area of practice.
It’s tough when you work with a patient and their loved ones and things take a turn for the worse. This can be especially challenging for you as they try to process news such as death.
Patient self-determination is a critical component of quality cancer care. This means that patients should be involved in a shared decision making process and that their priorities and preferences should be respected by the healthcare team.
Patient navigators should continuously evaluate their professional role and any perceived or actual conflicts of interest with their personal life.
Patient navigators should have a list of resources at their fingertips in order to assist patients with a variety of different challenges. They should also know which resources are credible and can be most helpful to particular patients.
Patients often lean on their navigators to ask questions, seek information, and get the “bottom line” in terms of their treatment and care. Trust is an integral part of this relationship and navigators simply cannot competently do their job without a deep level of trust with the patient.
There are core concepts critical to the work of a navigator. Empathy, integrity, honesty, and compassion are central to working with patients who may be confused, frightened, or overwhelmed.
Patient navigation is an evolving profession and many navigators do a significant amount of learning on the job. As such, it’s imperative that navigators are open to constructive criticism and feedback from members of the healthcare team, and even patients.
When patients receive a cancer diagnosis, they often want information on how to best manage their own health and wellness. Navigators can provide health promotion information and encourage patients to understand their cancer treatment and how to plan for a future of health.
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