Amanda Crosby, BSN, RN, CPON, is a pediatric oncology nurse navigator for The Children’s Hospital at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, Ga. She has served as a nurse navigator since March 2013.
Is there a nurse navigator you think should be profiled by NurseNavigation.com? Let us know!
Q: What is the most important work you do as a pediatric oncology nurse navigator?
Amanda Crosby: In the beginning of a new cancer diagnosis, parents/caregivers are surviving the minute-to-minute processing that their child has been diagnosed with cancer. Their lives have been forever changed and they fear for what the future will hold. In the midst of this fear and unknown, I get to step in as a nurse navigator and be the person to help them sort through it all and be their support person. I help alleviate their fears through education and support.
My role encompasses so many aspects of patient care and treatment that I become one of the main supporters for parents/caregivers during their child’s journey. I teach and reinforce the education provided by the medical team to help caregivers feel comfortable with the plan of care in place for their child. Understanding why the medical team does what they do while caring for a child with cancer helps parents/caregivers feel confident that they, too, can provide care to their child.
Knowledge is power, and by helping parents/caregivers and patients understand all that can and will happen during treatment and offering a “shoulder for support” while they endure it all, I am able to help successfully transition families through their cancer journey.
Q: What do you like best about your job?
AC: I love that no two days are ever the same! My job is constantly evolving to meet the unique needs of our patients and their families. I serve as a communication hub with the care team, helping to coordinate care and advocating for what will best help our patients. I love being able to spend one-on-one time with patients and their families, and truly get to know how they function together. I love the autonomy of educating patients and their families, and then watching them grow to understand all the facets of their diagnosis and treatment.
Actually, there are too many areas to mention about my job that I love. I truly consider myself very lucky to serve our team and patients in this role.
Q: Can you share any particular patient stories or experiences that demonstrate the value of nurse navigation?
AC: In my first year of pediatric oncology nurse navigation, we had a four-year-old, high-risk, neuroblastoma patient who was a very spirited little boy. He, unfortunately, did not have an ideal home life and this made his case much more challenging. We had difficulties getting his caregivers to bring him to appointments and getting him to his medications. Most of our medical care team was very disheartened by what they felt the future held for him.
It became my personal mission to advocate, educate and coordinate care for this individual. He remained a priority to our care team as I was constantly updating our physicians of his case. My role as nurse navigator helped this patient receive his care in a timely manner, crossing five different disciplines of our hospital for his care.
I truly feel this patient would have slipped through some cracks and had major delays in care if it weren’t for the design of the nurse navigator role. We were also so fortunate that a wonderful caregiver stepped up to the plate and we worked as a team to help keep his care on track. He completed his therapy and has remained disease free ever since. A true success story!
Q: What is your biggest challenge as a nurse navigator?
AC: One of the biggest challenges as a nurse navigator is the feeling of never “doing enough” for our patients and their families. There are days where I feel like I need another one of me to check off all the “to-dos” on my list. I try my best to manage time and assess where the needs are greatest, but there are moments where I feel I have not lived up to the expectations. I always strive to meet the needs of every member involved in a patient’s care, family and medical, but sometimes I have to remind myself to turn off my phone and spend time with my own family. There has to be a work-life balance so that I can be my best in both places.
You can never predict when a new diagnosis will enter the door or when someone may be receiving news of a relapse of their cancer. It is important to remember I am a part of a medical team and it is okay to call on the talents of others to help.
Q: What do you hope for as the future for nurse navigation in the United States?
AC: I would love to see nurse navigation become a gold standard for all medical teams. The coordination and efforts of nurse navigators significantly impacts medical practices positively, for the both the care team and the patient. How can you argue with a role designed to increase patient and family education and satisfaction, support and facilitate multidisciplinary effectiveness, and increase overall compliance with medical plans?
Having the personal touch of a nurse navigator also provides the “compassionate” side to caregiving, and, I think we all could agree, enhances our participation with our medical care teams.