Robert Burger, MD, Director, Women’s Cancer Center at Fox Chase Cancer Center
At the Women’s Cancer Center, we often say that we strive to treat the whole woman, and not just her disease. Our Nurse Navigators are essential to this aim because they help patients deal with the host of different issues that a cancer diagnosis can bring up. You may have heard of this service, which we launched nearly two years ago—but are you aware of what exactly your Nurse Navigator can help you with?
To tell you more, I am pleased to bring in Bonnie J. Miller, RN, BSN, OCN, FAAMA, Administrative Director of the Women’s Cancer Center & Clinical Nurse Navigation, who has been instrumental in bringing this crucial resource to Fox Chase patients.
Be Well, Bob
After launching in April 2010 with two breast navigators, Fox Chase now has six full-time navigators, including three in the Women’s Cancer Center: two breast and one in gynecologic oncology. Our women’s cancer Nurse Navigators have helped over 3,000 breast cancer patients and 1,100 gynecologic cancer patients to date. We are continually working on ways to expand the program so that even more patients can benefit from linking with a Nurse Navigator.
That said, you might wonder: what exactly do Nurse Navigators do? There’s more to having cancer than treatment. There are a whole host of other issues—emotional, logistical, financial—that can arise, making it difficult for patients to focus on their treatment and return to health. Nurse Navigators are here to help patients deal with these complex issues. No one wishes to get cancer, but if it does happen to you or your loved one, a Fox Chase Nurse Navigator will be there to ease the journey. Read further to learn what these special people do, meet the Fox Chase Women’s Cancer Center Nurse Navigators, and hear what patients have to say that have linked with this team.
Eight Things Your Nurse Navigator Can Do For You
Nurse Navigation Team: (left to right) Jessie Schol, Caryn Vadseth, Tracey Newhall, Joanne Stein, Rebecca Loss, Carol Cherry.
1. Prepare you for your visit before you even arrive on campus.
After you call Fox Chase to schedule an appointment, a Nurse Navigator will connect with you within 24 hours. Based on the clinical information surrounding your diagnosis, she will make sure you are scheduled for the appropriate type of appointment. She will make sure you are aware of what you will need to bring or send ahead prior to your visit, and answer any questions you may have about coming to Fox Chase. If you need slides, scans or records to be delivered from another institution, your Nurse Navigator will direct you on how to have your information sent to Fox Chase prior to your appointment and explain why this is so important in your clinical visit and decision making.
2. Help you understand your diagnosis and answer your clinical questions—from the very first call.
All of our Nurse Navigators are experienced, oncology-certified nurses with a high degree of clinical expertise. Because they are your first point of contact after you schedule your appointment, you can begin asking clinical questions you may be concerned about right away. Nurse Navigators are equipped with knowledge to help you better understand your diagnosis and treatment options, which can help reduce anxiety.
3. Expedite your care, where possible.
Nurse navigators will work within clinicians’ schedules in order to secure you an appropriate, timely appointment. Often, they can help coordinate your schedule so you can take care of multiple appointments and tests in the same day.
4. Greet you and introduce you to your care team.
When you arrive on campus, your Nurse Navigator will greet you in person and introduce you to your team of medical specialists, who will tailor an individualized, comprehensive treatment plan for you based on your diagnosis.
5. Help you “connect the dots.”
The treatment journey has many steps, which can lead you to different locations and specialists throughout the Center. To help you transition, your Nurse Navigator will make sure you know what the various phases of your treatment will be, who you will meet, and where you will need to go.
6. Help you overcome various barriers to care by educating and referring you to other services you may need.
In seeking treatment, patients may come across various barriers which make it difficult to navigate the healthcare system. Issues related to transportation, finances, insurance, language, communication, fear, anxiety, or family support may come up. You may need additional services outside of your medical treatment to help you cope with these issues. Your Nurse Navigator is aware of the resources available to you, and can refer you to the services you may need—many of which are available in-house, right at Fox Chase, or in the nearby community. Often, based on a patient’s needs, the Nurse Navigator can begin to coordinate the necessary resources before the patient even arrives at the Center.
7. Follow your care through the cancer continuum—from diagnosis, to treatment, to survivorship.
The medical personnel you see will change as you move through the different phases of your treatment. From your first phone call to the conclusion of your treatment to follow-up visits, your Nurse Navigator will be a resource to you throughout your journey.
8. Act as your advocate, educator, and go-to person.
Above all, Nurse Navigators seek to be champions for their patients, making sure they get what they need—for treatment and otherwise—whenever possible. They will answer or resolve your questions, concerns and issues—or find someone who can. As your journey evolves, your Nurse Navigator will remain a constant.
Meet the Women’s Cancer Center Nurse Navigators
Carol Cherry, MSN, RN, AOCNS – Gynecologic Oncology Nurse Navigator
“I enjoy that the bulk of my role as a Nurse Navigator involves direct contact with patients. The connection I make with patients is the most gratifying part of my job.”
Carol began at Fox Chase thirteen years ago as a genetics nurse & project manager in the Margaret Dyson Family Risk Assessment Program, where her work focused on families affected by ovarian and breast cancer. She became the Center’s first Gynecologic Oncology Nurse Navigator in October 2011.
Tracey Newhall, RN, BS, OCN – Breast Nurse Navigator
“I have a great interest in providing support and information to help women with the difficulties they face with a diagnosis of cancer. From the first call, I’m here to help.”
Tracey has been an oncology nurse for more than 20 years, working in a variety of settings, including inpatient medical oncology, ambulatory care, infusion room, and Nursing Research. Most recently, she became a Breast Nurse Navigator in March 2011.
Jessie Schol, RN, BSN, OCN – Breast Nurse Navigator
“Advocacy and education are the hallmarks of good nursing. Advocating for and educating patients is what I love about being a Nurse Navigator. The various professional opportunities which I experienced at Fox Chase have laid the strong foundation on which I stand to perform this job.”
Jessie has 22 years’ experience as a nurse, first as a Fox Chase nurse extern (a Fox Chase educational and clinical program for nursing students with an interest in oncology nursing), then as a staff RN on the clinical trial unit and next as a home infusion RN. Aftter that, Jessie was a clinical trials coordinator, an outpatient RN with an emphasis on lung cancer and finally landed in navigation. She became the Center’s first Breast Nurse Navigator in April 2010.
“A great big thank you to Tracey for helping me get set up at Fox Chase this past summer. Fox Chase has allowed me to continue on life’s journey CANCER FREE!”
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago. I will never forget the first day I visited FCCC and met my nurse navigator, Jessie. I was so scared, but she was by my side. I left my appointment with a plan and knew she would be with me every step of the way. She was my angel and continues to be my angel. Thank you Jessie and FCCC. You are the best.”
“Jessie rocks! She was awesome in my initial days. So helpful to navigate through a very scary time.”