Volume 3, Issue 1, January 2012
Coordinator's Message

Lori McMullen, RN, MSN, OCN®
Ewing, NJ

I hope that some of you had an opportunity to attend Institutes of Learning in November and the session on patient navigation, which was sponsored by the Nurse Navigator (NAV) SIG and coordinated by our own Carol Bush, RN, BS. It was a great success with ideas that prompted great dialogue among attendees. Our SIG will have the honor of presenting a pre-Congress session at the 2012 Congress. Please check out the ONS Web site for specific details about content in April.

A project team has been established to develop templates for navigator job descriptions for our Virtual Community (VC). This is in response to a constant request from members looking for such a tool. The leadership team envisions the Nurse Navigator SIG VC as being the "go to" resource for navigators, and adding job description templates is a step in that direction.

At a recent ONS function, I was surprised to learn that other oncology professionals have not heard of patient navigation. It seems like everywhere I turn, someone is talking about patient navigation. That, however, is my world, and it was an eye-opening experience to realize how small my world truly is. As navigators, we have a responsibility to educate not only the patients but also the medical community as well as the greater local and national community about the contributions that navigators make to patient care. Those of you who have attended our past SIG meetings at Congress are aware that a concern has been vocalized, "Will the role of navigators follow the historical path of clinical nurse specialists (CNSs)?" Please take the time to visit our SIG VC and read an enlightening article by Debi Boyle, RN, MSN, AOCNS®, FAAN, a CNS from California. Debi has shared her insights from a CNS perspective of how we, as navigators, can contribute to our own success and longevity.

"We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history."
—Sonia Johnson

The Nurse Navigator SIG Newsletter is produced by members of the
Nurse Navigator SIG and ONS staff and is not a peer-reviewed publication.

Special Interest Group Newsletter  January 2012

The Role of the Nurse Navigator in Support Groups
Katharine Radziewicz, RN, OCN®
Stamford, CT

My name is Katharine Radziewicz, RN, OCN®, and I am the gastrointestinal (GI) nurse navigator at Stamford Hospital, Bennett Cancer Center in Stamford, CT. My nursing career began as an inpatient oncology nurse at Stamford Hospital. After 12 years of inpatient nursing, I made a career change to an outpatient oncology infusion nurse at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT. It was there that I discovered the impact of nurse navigators. When I caught wind of Stamford Hospital seeking a GI nurse navigator, I eagerly leaped at the opportunity. My job was to implement the GI navigation program. Fortunately, two other navigators were already in place, so I was joining a team. My co-navigators showed me the ropes, gave me unlimited support, and gently provided me with guidance.

In the beginning, my knowledge of GI cancers was very general, but quickly, I learned the details of colorectal cancers and the long journeys that patients often face battling the disease. For many patients, it's neo-adjuvant treatment followed by surgery followed by adjuvant treatment—that's a long road of side effects, emotional turmoil, and physical hardships. Often, treatments can last close to a year, and for some, treatment is indefinite. Even for those who undergo surgery alone or surgery followed by adjuvant, it's a disruption and an abrupt change of one's life. It was not long before I recognized the obvious need for a support group. Patients were looking for support from others who they could relate to, who "have been there," who know what it's like to recover from colorectal surgery, who experience similar side effects from radiation and/or chemotherapy and many other experiences that are common to colorectal patients. Patients need to know that they are not alone. As an oncology nurse, I know that sometimes the best therapy for patients is reaching out to other patients to establish a bond that can be appreciated only by patients themselves. However, in our community, support groups tailored to patients with colorectal cancers were nonexistent. At that point, I decided our cancer center needed to provide a support group for these patients.

In starting this support group, I approached our oncology social worker and discussed the apparent need for a support group. Together we decided we would co-facilitate a colorectal support group. We mutually agreed on the first Tuesday of each month and decided that we would meet at noon for an hour and a half. We realized that whatever time of day we chose, we were not going to please everyone but thought that daytime would be the more convenient time for most. As far as marketing is concerned, I mailed and e-mailed flyers to all of my patients who I felt could benefit. We put out flyers in our Cancer Center. I made phone calls and distributed flyers to physicians' offices. Occasionally, I sent out e-mails to our oncologists and surgeons with a gentle reminder to refer appropriate patients.

Our support group has been ongoing for 11 months now. Some meetings include a full room and others have just a few. Participants shed tears, give support to one another, and provide tips and suggestions for dealing with side effects. They talk about their anger, fear, or joy and ask questions and share feelings. My co-facilitator is great at jumping in whenever a lull or period of uncomfortable silence occurs. Occasionally, we bring in guest speakers (nutritionists, oncology nurse practitioners) who patients really enjoy. I would say that my biggest challenge is convincing patients to give the support group a try. Making another trip to the hospital adds to their already demanding schedule of treatments, tests, and doctor visits.

These patients are not the only ones who benefit from this support group. I always walk away with valuable insight of what it is like to have colorectal cancer. I often tuck away in my mind good advice that they have shared that I can pass on to other patients. Sometimes I feel that I benefit more than the participants. Learning from patients is a wonderful way for nurses to grow.

So, to navigators out there—be assertive, and if your institution does not provide support groups, think about starting one yourself. It's incredibly rewarding, and you will be surprised how much you get out of it as well as your patients. The cost is nothing, the amount of time is minimal, and everyone truly benefits.

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  January 2012

National Conferences Connect Nurse Navigators
Carol Bush, RN, BS
Wichita, KS

It's been over two months since I attended the Annual Navigation and Survivorship Conference sponsored by the Academy of Oncology Nurse Navigators. The pages of the conference syllabus are worn from my repeated reference. New contacts I made are by now familiar colleagues, and I almost passed up the chance to attend because I was too busy.

One of my favorite takeaways from the conferenceis that nurse navigators are the real-time gap analysis specialists in a health system. I sure didn't come up with it, but I am quoting it every chance I get. The nurse navigators I mentor are empowered by it, and hospital administrators who I advise finally get it when I reveal the quote in presentations on navigation. (I send a big thanks and shout out to Marie DeStefano, RN, MSN, Director of Oncology with Crozer-Keystone Health System for the quote.)

Had I not gone, I would have missed a great opportunity not only to learn but also to network with other nurse navigators. Access to virtual education is wonderful and certainly opens up a lot of options. However, in my book, few things are more powerful than networking at conferences.

Networking is important in any career, even more so for nurse navigators. With so many pioneers among us, the isolation can be suffocating. The opportunity to talk and share ideas with colleagues is essential for continued growth. This is also a chance to see what developments are taking place in other areas of the field. At the same time, information can be shared about salaries, benefits, and possible openings in other areas.

Colleagues may have a great system or process in place that could be replicated at your workplace. Conversely, you may find out that your system or process is superior to others, that others are more short-staffed than yours, etc. Who knows, you may come back feeling a lot better about where you work after talking to other nurse navigators!

Need funding for ONS Congress? Apply for a Congress scholarship! Recipients will receive an educational grant for up to $1,200 to apply toward ONS Congress registration, travel to and from Congress, and per diem Congress expenses.

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  January 2012


RE:Connect is a blog written by oncology nurses on a variety of topics of interest to other nurses in the specialty, including facing day-to-day challenges at work, juggling busy lives at home, and keeping up to date with the magnitude of information available for practicing nurses. This month on RE:Connect, you'll find the following new discussions.

As a reader, join in on the conversation and connect with other oncology nurse readers by posting your own stories, tips, ideas, and suggestions in the comments section at the end of each blog post.
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Special Interest Group Newsletter  January 2012

Five-Minute In-Service

In the latest issue of ONS Connect, the Five-Minute In-Service takes a look at Symptom Clusters in Women With Lung Cancer

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  January 2012

Do You Enjoy Writing?
Become an ONS Blogger

Join Patients and Caregivers on the Cancer Journey!

We're looking for oncology nurses to write for Traveling Companions, ONS's patient- and caregiver-focused blog. If you'd like to share your thoughts and comments to support patients and caregivers on the cancer journey, please e-mail us at socialmedia@ons.org for consideration.

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  January 2012

ONS Podcasts of Interest

ONF Podcasts
The philosopher Martin Heidegger often used the metaphor of "coming to a clearing in the woods" as a way of coming in touch with an enlightened interpretation of the world (Conroy, 2003). Primary author Meghan L. Underhill, PhD, RN, AOCNS®, brings us to the philosophical clearing in the woods in regard to breast surveillance with her November 2011 CJON article "Engaging in Medical Vigilance: Understanding the Personal Meaning of Breast Surveillance" (co-authored by Suzanne S. Dickerson, RN, DNS).

In this podcast, Underhill and CJON Associate Editor Ellen Giarelli, EdD, RN, CRNP, explore in-depth hermeneutic phenomenology and discuss how this approach to understanding the phenomenon of breast surveillance can help nurses prepare to work with women who are the "experts on their own illnesses."

CJONPlus Podcasts
Despite medical advances, febrile neutropenia experienced by chemotherapy recipients remains a potential life-threatening emergency that requires timely antibiotic administration. In this CJONPlus podcast, authors Erika Hawley, RN, BSN, MBA, OCN®, Molly Loney, RN, MSN, AOCN®, and Michelle Wiece, RN, OCN®, discuss their recent CJON article titled "A Multidisciplinary Team's Development of Tools and Processes to Improve Treatment Times."

The podcast and article describe a multidisciplinary best-practice model developed to achieve timely recognition of febrile neutropenia and a one-hour benchmark for antibiotic administration. At the institution where the model was developed, collaboration between the cancer center and emergency department was vital to providing a vehicle for critically analyzing current practice and developing effective throughput pathways and educational tools intended to improve clinical outcomes for this high-risk population.

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  January 2012

Membership Information

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Special Interest Group Newsletter  January 2012

Nurse Navigator SIG Officers

Coordinator (2010-2012)
Lori McMullen, RN, MSN, OCN®
Ewing, NJ

Carol Bush, RN, BS
Wichita, KS

Dominique Srdanovic, RN, OCN®, MA
Stamford, CT


Web Administrator
Marie Borsellino, RN, BSN, OCN®, CBPN-CMA

ONS Copy Editor
Emily Nalevanko, MFA
Pittsburgh, PA

Know someone who would like to receive a print copy of this newsletter?
To print a copy of this newsletter from your home or office computer, click here or on the printer icon located on the SIG Newsletter front page. Print copies of each online SIG newsletter also are available through the ONS National Office. To have a copy mailed to you or another SIG member, contact Membership/Leadership Specialist Carol DeMarco at cdemarco@ons.org or 866-257-4ONS, ext. 6230.

View past newsletters.

ONS Membership & Component Relations Department Contact Information

Brian K. Theil, CAE, Director of Membership and Component Relations Department

Diane Scheuring, MBA, CAE, CMP, Manager of Member Services

Carol DeMarco, Membership Specialist—SIGs

The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) does not assume responsibility for the opinions expressed and information provided by authors or by Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Acceptance of advertising or corporate support does not indicate or imply endorsement of the company or its products by ONS or the SIG. Web sites listed in the SIG newsletters are provided for information only. Hosts are responsible for their own content and availability.

Oncology Nursing Society
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