Stacey Newmyer, RN, is a nurse navigator for Mercy Health Comprehensive Breast Center in Muskegon, Mich. She has served as a nurse navigator since November 2015.
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Q: What do you like best about your job?
Stacey Newmyer: I enjoy my job as a nurse navigator; however, the best thing about my job is knowing that I am helping patients and their families through a difficult time in their lives. When I can see and feel the difference that I am making, this solidifies that I am right where I belong.
Once someone gets a diagnosis of cancer, the journey is mixed with so many different emotions. For patients who feel alone and lost in the shuffle, it just adds stress. As the nurse navigator for breast cancer patients, when I get positive feedback from them and their family, they often emphasize the relief they have with knowing I am “on their side,” which means more than anything to them.
I often get a question from people after they ask me what I do for a living. It is: “How do you do that every day. Isn’t that just so hard?” I smile, and tell them I know this is my gift, and knowing that I am helping in a time like this is more than rewarding.
Q: What value do you think nurse navigation provides?
SN: I believe a nurse navigator provides support, education, compassion and direction. I feel we offer a valuable service, and with this service we build public relations in the community. I always stress to our patients that we are here for them and to never hesitate to call regarding questions, ideas and concerns.
I hope that our role as nurse navigators relieves patients of their stress by knowing we are here for them as their advocate. I have had patients even tell me that with a nurse navigator working on their behalf, they have felt relieved and less concerned about their care because they feel they can trust us and know we have their best interest in mind. This is such a rewarding job. I pray that I can be the best assistance to my patients as possible and a blessing to them as I am blessed by them.
Q: What is your biggest challenge as a nurse navigator?
SN: The biggest challenge as a nurse navigator is the need to be in so many areas or locations at one time, so that I could be with the patient where I am needed the most. There are so many times I would love to be with a patient at their doctor’s appointments or meet them at the hospital either before or after their surgery and then also meet with my patients at least at the start of their chemotherapy or radiation treatment. However, this is not often possible because of the need for me to be present at the Comprehensive Breast Center. My availability at the breast center for all my patients either by phone or an in-person appointment is the biggest focus.
I also meet with patients either before biopsies or after to explain our role, and to once again explain the biopsy procedure and follow up. The biggest thing I always stress to my patients is to call me anytime if they have concerns, questions and thoughts. As their advocate and educator, I want my patients and even their support people to know I am available and can assist them in any way.
Q: How do your colleagues view nurse navigation and care coordination?
SN: My colleagues view the nurse navigation role as a necessary tool for breast cancer patients. We have a great team here at the Comprehensive Breast Center, with excellent working relationships. Thanks to our exceptional clinic, we all are focused on the greatest need: the patient. We have a lot of support and resources, and I feel very blessed to be in this role.
Q: What do you hope for as the future for nurse navigation in the United States?
SN: My hope for the future for nurse navigators is that they increase in specialties. I feel there is a real and growing need to have a nurse navigator for each cancer diagnosis. The positivity within the community that this role brings is immeasurable.
Each person with any diagnosis of cancer should have the peace of mind knowing they are being cared for and monitored by a nurse navigator. I hope this becomes an National Comprehensive Cancer Network guideline — that a nurse navigator touches every positive cancer diagnosis. Anytime we can relieve a patient of added stress and confusion, the better.