Margaret Ward, APRN, AOCNP, is the nurse navigator at the Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital (OLBH) Women’s Center in Ashland, Ky. OLBH and the OLBH Women’s Center are part of the Bon Secours Kentucky Health System. A nurse for more than 37 years and a long-serving employee of OLBH, Ward was named nurse navigator of the OLBH Women’s Center in July 2008. She was named the Bon Secours Kentucky Health System’s first quarter Good Help Award recipient for 2016.
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 nurse navigator?
Margaret Ward: The most important work I do as a nurse navigator is to be a coach and educator for those affected with breast cancer. Listening to my patients, encouraging them to ask questions and having them know I am sincerely available for them are essential outcomes for each encounter. Helping them calm their fears and finding hope allows them to “re-center” and have the capacity to learn the foreign language of breast cancer treatment and care.
Q: What do you like best about your job?
MW: The best part of my job is when my patients respond to me in such a way that I know they are learning about their disease, their overall health and begin to make good choices and informed decisions about their care. I remind them from the beginning that they are in charge of what happens to them. They are the pilot in this journey and will decide who is on their team, what happens next and when. Empowering the patient through education and feedback is a great reward. It’s actually not only a job but a privilege to be allowed to be part of their care.
Q: Can you share any particular patient stories or experiences that demonstrate the value of nurse navigation?
MW: The most notable experience that demonstrates the value of navigation are from patients and family members that have experienced cancer before — without the help of a navigator. The comments and feedback validate the importance of what navigators do. “I wish I had a navigator when I had cancer” explains succinctly the value and importance of what we are doing.
Q: How do your colleagues view nurse navigation and care coordination?
MW: My colleagues view the nurse navigator as not only helpful but necessary. Initially I will spend about an hour with a patient and the family explaining the new diagnosis, possible and probable treatment options, and allow them to begin exploring resources and literature that I have provided and suggested. The surgeons and oncologists comment that their initial and subsequent encounters are more productive, the patients and families are better informed and the care process is better coordinated.
Q: What would you say to an organization that is contemplating whether to implement a nurse navigation program?
MW: I would encourage all facilities that provide cancer care to include nurse navigation. It allows the patient a contact person who has access to the medical record, can answer questions and also reinforce information provided at clinician visits. In addition, referrals for care, imaging and follow up remain in that health care system. Downstream revenue may be a challenge to quantify but most assuredly is generated.