What Is an Oncology Nurse Navigator?

Trusted advisor, personal advocate, healthcare system expert, caring friend—a nurse navigator wears many hats in the service of cancer patients.

For many cancer patients, being diagnosed is the first time they’ve interacted with the healthcare system beyond routine visits to a family doctor.

Learning how to chart a course through the tests, follow-up appointments, treatment schedules, billing, support services, and other parts of fighting cancer can be nearly as intimidating as the diagnosis. That’s where nurse navigators come in.

What Do Nurse Navigators Do?

A nurse navigator is a specially trained registered nurse (RN) who knows the ins and outs of the oncology department. He or she helps patients and their families find their way through the cancer treatment journey.

As a trusted member of patients’ cancer care team, a nurse navigator is both a source of information and someone who can help make the treatment process easier. That may mean working with a doctor to explain a diagnosis, helping schedule follow-up tests, or working to find answers to any questions that arise along the way.

Essential Duties

Think of a nurse navigator as the central spoke of the wheel of care providers, services, and offices that a person who has cancer will have to interact with. This is the one person who will know what’s going on and what comes next during each step of the process.

When necessary, a nurse navigator can act as a go-between for the patient and doctors. These professionals help make sure appointments happen at the right times and that cancer patients make it to the doctor’s office for visits.

Emotional support is also an essential part of the nurse navigator role. Being diagnosed with cancer can be challenging mentally as well as physically. A nurse navigator can help cancer patients and their friends and family process what has happened and offer suggestions for how to handle challenges.

Connecting You to Resources

The nurse navigator is a resource for patients in every step of the fight against cancer. This person is there to answer questions, whether someone is newly diagnosed or has been living in remission for years.

They also understand that life as a survivor brings its own challenges. A nurse navigator will have details about support groups, survivor resources, and suggestions for living well after beating cancer.

To learn more about how Austin Cancer Center can help you on the journey to recovery, visit austincancercenters.com.