What are the top challenges facing nurse navigation? Five navigators share their thoughts.
Janelle Gorski: One of the biggest current challenges for me is identifying patients who might benefit from nurse navigation. Direct referrals from colleagues will always be valuable, but automating certain referral triggers can cast a wider net.
We have found some creative ways to work within our current electronic systems to identify patients most likely to benefit from nurse navigation. In the near future, we will change our electronic medical record, and I’m quite hopeful that a new system will allow improved tracking of certain patient populations (e.g., those with a certain diagnosis, those receiving a particular treatment, those who smoke). No matter the exact process for identifying patients, ongoing refinement is needed.
Kherri-Lynn Rego: The biggest challenge that I face as a nurse navigator is prioritizing the time I spend connecting with patients. Interacting with patients gives me a firsthand look at any perceived or potential challenges that I can identify from the start. Getting to know the patient behind the medical diagnosis is an essential component to providing exceptional care, so it can be challenging to limit the amount of time I spend interacting with each individual.
Yamile Leon: One of the biggest challenges I have personally faced as a nurse navigator actually has to do with the title itself. In recent years, the term “navigator” has recently been ascribed as a title for many different jobs in the health care field. This has led to not only patients but even health care providers and peers being confused as to a nurse navigator’s function and role. Some people have actually thought of navigators like an actual GPS, helping patients navigate a building instead of a patient’s health care needs. This is where proper and continued education is key to ensure everyone is aware of not only the actual duties of a nurse navigator, but the proven value and impact nurse navigation has on patient care and outcomes.
Sara Owens: One of the challenges of doing our job is being able to accept the limits of what we can do for a patient. Sometimes it comes down to simply “getting them through” treatment and then providing support as we can for them going forward.
Meghan Walker: My biggest challenge as a nurse navigator is unfortunately having too many patients and not enough time in the day to spend as much time as I would like with each one. That being said, I try my best to meet each patient’s and family’s unique set of needs. I think that time spent talking with patients and their support team is so valuable and goes a long way in reassuring them.
Since there are so many women, and sometimes men, affected by breast cancer, there is a steady stream of patients that need and deserve a nurse navigator to provide support and guidance. I feel pulled in many directions most days and no two days are alike. Nurse navigators learn to triage what’s critical and do the best they can with each day to help as many patients as possible and hopefully make things a little easier during a very stressful time.