Diseases are complex. Understanding and dealing with diseases takes a team: enter the 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.
According to the NCBI, Dr. Harold Freeman created the initial nurse navigator position for Harlem Hospital in the 1990s.
A nurse navigator assists the patient from initial diagnosis to end-of-life treatment if necessary.
What Roles Do Nurse Navigators Perform?
Nurse navigators help their patients throughout the treatment process. Below are some of the roles nurse navigators perform.
Education: 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.
Community resources: 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.
Monitors symptoms: 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.
Psychological assistance: 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.
Expert advice from nurses like you
Join the free Incredible Health Nurse Community to get career advice, support, and tips from experienced fellow nurses.
Nurse Navigator Qualifications
Nurse navigators fill a key role. Therefore, they need to have skills and education.
- 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.
- Earn you registered nursing license: If you don’t have your registered nursing license, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam after earning your BSN or ADN.
- Last, you need to obtain a certification through the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators.
Some of the soft skills required for this position include:
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.
Empathy: 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.
How Much Does a Nurse Navigator Make?
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.
Earn your CEUs free
Our easy online CE courses are ANCC-accredited and 100% free for nurses.