In a recent piece published by STAT, Kelly Michelson, MD, writes about the importance of nurse navigators, specifically in pediatric intensive care units.
Communication is of the utmost importance between patients and those treating them. Yet it is also one of the most prominent problems in health care; lack of communication can easily lead to breakdowns and complications in treatment. Nurse navigators ensure that there is no disconnect between physicians, patients and their families when wading through the mire of medical terminology. Michelson writes:
When I make plans for my patients in the pediatric intensive care unit each morning, discussions often include the bedside nurse, a resident and fellow (doctors in training), several subspecialists, a pharmacist, and a nutritionist … I am often left wondering how this all gets translated to my patients’ families.
The article also notes the importance of having a trained professional to help center care around the patient. The patient’s, or in the case of pediatrics the parents’, voice is sometimes left out of the conversation. Navigators ensure that patients receive the utmost support throughout their care and that they also are getting the best treatment for their individual needs.
While interactions with navigators have traditionally happened outside of hospitals, particularly for cancer patients, their services are also needed for people in the hospital and their families. In pediatric intensive care units, where I have worked for 15 years, parents and members of the health care team describe the importance of having a ‘point person’ who can guide parents facing life-changing decisions for their child.