Diseases are complex. Understanding and dealing with diseases takes a team: enter the nurse navigator.
According to the NCBI, Dr. Harold Freeman created the initial nurse navigator position for Harlem Hospital in the 1990s.
In this article, we will explore:
- What is a nurse navigator?
- What do nurse navigators do?
- How do you become a nurse navigator?
- What are the skills required for nurse navigators?
- What is the salary outlook for nurse navigators?
What is a nurse navigator?
A nurse navigator is as a middle man between the patient and clinical care staff. They help navigate the patient through the treatment process by connecting them to resources and information to make informed decisions. A nurse navigator assists the patient from initial diagnosis to end-of-life treatment if necessary.
What do nurse navigators do?
Nurse navigators help their patients throughout the treatment process. Below are some of the roles nurse navigators perform.
One primary benefits of a nurse navigator is providing expert information to patients. Often, patients learn about a diagnosis, and they rush to Google or their close friend, which only fills them with worry.
A nurse navigator can provide expert education about the disease along with treatments.
This benefit connects patients to community resources. For example, many new cancer patients feel afraid and alone when they first receive the diagnosis. A nurse navigator can help find them support groups to attend to alleviate those feelings.
Provides clinical resources
The navigator helps equip their patient with information about other clinical options that may not be available locally. They also can show a patient where to find a second opinion.
As a middle man between the patient and care team, the navigator records a patient’s symptoms. For example, say the navigator notices a patient’s swelling. They can inform the oncology nurse or RN to run some tests to determine what’s wrong.
When a patient feels distressed, they may reach out to the nurse for help. The nurse navigator can provide comfort and, if necessary, refer them to a social worker or counselor for more support.
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3 steps to becoming a nurse navigator
Nurse navigators fill a key role. Therefore, they need to have skills and education.
Step 1: Earn a nursing degree
The first step to becoming a nurse navigator is earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). While you can become a nurse navigator with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), having a bachelor’s degree will help you against the competition.
Step 2: Get an RN license
If you don’t have your registered nursing license, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam after earning your BSN or ADN.
Step 3: Obtain certification
What are the skills required for nurse navigators?
Ability to work independently
Though these nurses can use the clinical care team, they generally work alone. Their work depends on a keen ability to communicate between parties. Having the ability to work alone helps the whole process work well.
Strong organizational skills
This is a must for navigators. They schedule medical appointments, comply with safety methods, create patient care programs and record data. Having these skills will help promote effective care for patients.
Critical thinking skills
One of the keys to critical thinking is explaining. You need to relay complex information in ways that the patient understands. Another aspect of critical thinking for this role is analysis. To analyze, you need to collect data and making evidence-based decisions. Last, self-regulating helps nurses remove their own biases and assumptions while on the job.
The significance of compassion or empathy as a nurse, in general, can’t go understated. The same rings true for nurse navigators. Empathy helps a nurse meet a patient where they are. Nurse navigators deal with a host of patients from various backgrounds, so empathizing with others goes a long way.
Overall, a nurse navigator plays a crucial role in a patient’s treatment. They navigate the patient and lead them to the resources and help to deal with their illness.
What is the salary outlook for nurse navigators?
Nurse navigators salary depends on a host of factors from location, experience, and education. However, most nurse navigators make about what the average registered nurse makes. The average salary for a registered nurse in the United States is $80,010 per year.
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