The Role of the Nurse Navigator in Cancer Care

By Darci Grota, RN, BSN March 31, 2017

Learn how nurse navigators support cancer patients from initial diagnosis all the way through treatment and recovery.

Cancer can affect many areas of a person’s life; one can be challenged physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and financially. Nurse navigators have an important role in helping patients meet those challenges during their journey through cancer treatment.

The goal of the nurse navigator is to provide support at any given time during treatment. This starts on the day of diagnosis and continues through a patient’s survivorship period. Ascension values the role of a navigator and offers this as a free service.

A nurse navigator helps patients by:

  • Providing education on topics such as pathology, reviewing timelines for consults and treatment, pre- and post-surgery care, or reviewing information that was presented at consultations with providers.
  • Connecting patients to members of the cancer team that provide resources and support, which can include oncology social workers, financial advocates, genetic counselors, dietitians and American Cancer Society representatives, to name a few.
  • Educating patients and families on community resources that are available in their area.

The most important benefit that a patient receives from a nurse navigator is the ongoing emotional support throughout treatment. Navigators strive to treat the whole person and their family, not just “the patient.” Cancer care can elicit many emotions, and navigators help guide families through those difficult times. We're proud to offer the tools and resources needed to help make our patients’ cancer treatment path as smooth as possible.