Transitioning into a Nurse Navigator Role

What Would Lillie Do? published on April 26, 2021

Name: Theresa Martello
Position: Nurse Navigator
Subject: Transitioning from ICU to Neuro-Oncology Navigation

I have been hired as a Nurse Navigator for a Neuro-Oncology group. The role is new to me as well as this team. It seems I will be oriented by the physician assistants, but I would like any advice and resources on guidelines and where to begin. I want to be successful in this role. My background is in ICU. Thank You.

To start, you need some data. How many neuro-oncology patients are diagnosed and treated each year, and what types are there by volume. For example, glioblastomas—24 newly diagnosed patient a year; astrocytomas — 28 newly diagnosed a year; spinal tumors, etc.

There needs to be a clear delineation of roles and responsibilities between your role and the physician assistant and nurse practitioner role. Review your detailed job description with your hiring manager, this should have been posted when you applied for the job. This will help you avoid getting work put on your plate that belongs to other members of the team.

You also should inquire how your performance will be measured and why the department decided to create this new position at this time. They clearly saw a need for it.

If there are other nurse navigators at your institution within oncology, find them and arrange to meet at least quarterly, if not monthly. Networking is key for you now.

It’s great that your former role was in an ICU. Read up using nursing books and medical journals about the types of patients you will be navigating, what their usually trajectory of care is, survival rates, types of treatments (surgery, chemo, radiation), and also about clinical trials for these patient populations. Attend the tumor boards where these cases are presented too, you will learn a lot. At these tumor boards, you can become the voice for the patient. You are the patient’s advocate as one of your roles as their nurse navigator.

The book Transitioning from Clinical Oncology Nurse to Oncology Nurse Navigator can serve as a good template for your training.

Good luck! We hope you attend our AONN+ conferences so you can learn even more!

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