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Nurse Navigators for Cancer - In Your Corner and Part of Your Team

Headshot of Navigator Eleanor Miller

Have you heard of an oncology nurse navigator?

Nurse navigators at Penn Medicine are part of the team of surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, and other specialists that care for cancer patients and families. However, unlike the nurses that you may more regularly see, our role involves staying with a patient throughout their cancer journey and connecting them to the various providers that they need across our health system.

We specifically assist patients and families with access and coordination of care as well as information, education or referrals to supportive resources. We understand that having cancer can be overwhelming, so we're here to make sure you're set up with the right oncologists and surgeons and that you're receiving the support and guidance you need.

As nurse navigators, we have specialized training and knowledge of cancer diagnoses, treatments and health system operations. We're able to work across specialties and the health system to build relationships and assist in patient care.

Problem Solving for Our Patients

Stock photo of nurse reading files with patientConsider a nurse navigator a master problem solver. Maybe you or a loved one have a new type of cancer and you’re not sure where to start or what is going on. Sometimes you need clarity on your treatment plan, status updates or you’re not sure who to call for your questions. Maybe you need to talk through your options as you make decisions about where to pursue treatment or the logistics of a plan. Other times, your oncologist refers you to a nurse navigator to help coordinate additional services you need.

Here is where a nurse navigator steps in to help assess the situation, provide information about the steps to take or sort through the logistics of actually getting that appointment. We often say that even if we don’t know the answer, we know who to connect with for patient needs. 

Our Team's Ultimate Goals

Here at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center, our nurse navigators cover specific disease sites, allowing us to become experts in those areas. We participate in our disease team conferences, leadership meetings, and other initiatives in order to share ideas, collaborate, and advocate for our patients, coworkers and providers.

Our goals are to provide high quality, thoughtful and coordinated care for our patients and families. We strive to address the barriers to care that you may face and collaborate with the team of health care and administrative professionals in order to resolve those barriers.

As the manager of the nurse navigation team, it’s been wonderful to work with this group of nurses. They are kind, intelligent, thoughtful, cohesive, hardworking and collaborative. We have created a team culture focused on outstanding patient care, trust, innovation and professional development.

Recently, this special team was recognized with the 2018 Team Achievement Award in front of 4,000 oncology nursing peers at the Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress in Washington, DC -- a true honor and something we are very proud of.  

How to Get a Nurse Navigator

If you're already a cancer patient at Penn, feel free to ask your provider to refer you.

If you're a new patient, you may be connected to a nurse navigator when you first reach out to Penn or when you make an appointment.

About This Blog

The Focus on Cancer blog discusses a variety of cancer-related topics, including treatment advances, research efforts and clinical trials, nutrition, support groups, survivorship and patient stories.

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