Megan Roy, BSN, RN-BC, OCN is a nurse navigator for lung cancer patients at Abramson Cancer Center. She works closely with the oncology team and acts as an advocate to patients and their family. Her mission is to help patients make informed decisions and provide the support they need throughout their cancer journey.
We recently sat down with Megan to learn more about her role.
What does a nurse navigator do?
Nurse navigators assess for and help with barriers that prevent patients from receiving care. In the beginning of a cancer diagnosis, we help patients access care and schedule an appointment with the right doctor at the right time. We talk to patients about their support system and make sure they don't have any transportation issues or financial barriers to getting the care they need. If they do, we involve other supportive services as needed. We also provide the patient with education about their type of cancer and the many resources available to them.
What advice or guidance do you provide for a newly diagnosed lung cancer patient?
Newly diagnosed lung cancer patients are understandably very anxious. I reassure them that this is a normal feeling. The hardest part is waiting for all the results to get a treatment plan set and start treatment. I educate the patient and loved ones on why it is important to wait. The best treatment is getting it right the first time.
Do you have any tips to share to help patients navigate through the system?
Enroll in MyPennMedicine by visiting mypennmedicine.org. You can send messages to your doctor, access your records and schedule your own appointments for some specialties online. Another tip is to add your doctor's phone number into your phone when you are given their card. Many people do not know how to contact a doctor's office if they haven't seen them for a while. I encourage my patients to use me as a resource. If I don't know the answer to a question, I can put them in touch with the right person.
What's it like to be part of the Lung Cancer Team at Penn Medicine?
I have the privilege to work with a brilliant multidisciplinary team at Penn Medicine. They strive to give our patients the best treatment options. They have devoted their life to advancing lung cancer treatment to optimize the best outcomes for our patients. Our doctors are part of many clinical trials. They will screen and recommend appropriate trials to help you get the best care they can offer.
What makes your team of nurse navigators so special at Penn?
I work with a very special group of women. At Penn, our nurse navigators cover specific disease sites, and we are very knowledgeable on the cancer sites we cover. We are part of your care team, so we can act as your advocate. We are dedicated to helping cancer patients at their most vulnerable time in their life.
The nurse navigators are also involved in other cancer organizations. Our accomplishments include publishing articles in professional journals, presenting posters and presentations at national meetings, writing chapters in oncology text books, and being honored with many nursing awards. I feel very lucky to be a part of the team. They mentor and motivate me to be a better nurse.
How are you supporting patients virtually?
I have been working from home since March. I am on the phone with patients all day long. I can't meet my patients in person but I give them my cell phone number to text and email address so we can communicate it other ways if easier for them. I can discuss and sometimes offer telemedicine appointments with their doctors to help decrease the amount of time they are coming to Penn. My department has moved all our support groups virtually. We have been able to start many new groups with more participants from our patients at Penn.
View our online support groups
How has your role changed since COVID-19?
I educate my patients on the importance of screening and pursuing treatment for cancer in this new era of COVID-19. Cancer will not wait for COVID-19 to disappear. Penn has prioritized the safety of our cancer patients and has put restrictions and measures in place to make it safe to come to Penn for testing and treatment. I stay up to date on these measures and can let you know what is being done.
What do you do in your spare time?
I have four boys and spend my spare time with my family. I used to have big family dinners on most Sundays which include my parents, my aunt's family and my sister's family. We have adjusted this due to COVID-19. Now we have virtual game night and Friday night virtual poker with family and friends. My husband and I like to try new microbreweries, travel and binge watch Netflix series. I also spend time reading and getting mani/pedi's with my girlfriends.