The nurse navigator role was developed within the creation of the multidisciplinary clinic program primarily to address patient needs throughout the care continuum. Each disease-specific multidisciplinary cancer clinic has a nurse navigator who manages the complex care processes from the time of diagnosis, through the treatment phase, and post recovery phase for each individual patient. This individual is often the first contact for the diagnosed patient and is seen as the “dot connector” for ongoing care. The objective is to reduce gaps in the care process, streamlining care, while the patient moves from one discipline to the next.
Besides being responsible for the operational clinic flow, the nurse navigator plays a major role in conducting the weekly team conferences in which the specialists meet discussing each new patient and developing a team consensus for treating each individual patient. These patients are often seeking second opinions when they have progressed through standard treatment regimens offered at their local hospital or physician office. The navigator will obtain pertinent records and recent pathology to give an updated patient history.
Barb Kruse RN,OCN,M.Ed is currently the director of all the multidisciplinary cancer clinics and nurse navigators. Ms. Kruse has a Masters in counseling with an emphasis on chronic illness as well as 30 years of oncology experience. Her background encompasses medical, surgical, radiation, and pediatric oncology.