Nurse Navigator

special interest group newsletter

Volume 5, Issue 2, August 2014
Coordinator's Message:
Achieving Greatness

Carol Bush, BS, RN
Wichita, KS

“To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”

These were the words of tennis legend Arthur Ashe, whose life was a prime example of such greatness. Arthur was an incredibly gifted tennis player. He made great strides as he won one national and world championship after another, often the first African American to do so. However, over and above his tennis success, Arthur also made a lasting impact through his work as a social activist.

As a competitor in a sport that was dominated by Caucasians at the time, Arthur felt firsthand some of the injustices suffered by African Americans during this period. He worked hard to raise awareness and fight against these injustices. In addition, health setbacks Arthur suffered became the focus of more activism on his part, as he worked to raise awareness about AIDS and help those affected by it. Today, the legacy of Arthur reaches far beyond his tennis achievements. He is remembered as a man of true greatness who helped change the world for the better (Arthur Ashe Learning Center, 2007).

I love that quote. “To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” I have it pasted to my desk on three sticky notes. My aim is not to achieve greatness but rather to remind myself to focus on simple steps I can take in my personal and professional world to make a difference without becoming overwhelmed.

As nurse navigators, we are surrounded by a whirling cacophony of healthcare reform, program development, new standards, patient advocating, reimbursement changes, and electronic medical record launches and re-launches! It can feel very overwhelming, and that only counts the “day job” part of our lives.

Yes, it can be overwhelming. However, now is a great time to be a nurse navigator. Every morning, I take a deep breath and look at those three sticky notes. I can’t do everything—nor do I want to—but I can do one thing.

Start where you are. We are fortunate to have thousands of experienced colleagues across the country. We have regional and national networking and professional groups for nurse and patient navigators. Get started now, and introduce yourself on the SIG discussion board or join the Survivorship and Nurse Navigator SIG Networking joint LinkedIn group!

Use what you have. We have a growing body of evidence and tools. My main go-to right now is ONS’s Oncology Nurse Navigator Core Competencies. You owe it to yourself to check it out! I printed a copy, and it is full of highlighted areas and the edges are dog-eared. ONS has just released Oncology Nurse Navigation: Delivering Patient-Centered Care Across the Continuum. You will want to check out “The Making of an Innovative Book on Oncology Nurse Navigation” by Penny Daugherty, RN, MS, OCN®, in this issue of the newsletter, about how the idea for the book came about.

Do what you can. Get connected with colleagues. Read and refer to the tools. Share with us how you have used them in your daily practice—in quality initiatives or in collaboration with other navigators in your system or region. Each one of us can do one thing to build the body of evidence for our specialty. I’d love to hear your story!

Arthur Ashe Learning Center. (2007). Arthur Ashe: Conscious leader, humanitarian, educator and athlete. Retrieved from

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

Nurse Navigator

Special Interest Group Newsletter  August 2014

The Making of an Innovative Book on Oncology Nurse Navigation

Penny Daugherty, RN, MS, OCN®
Atlanta, GA

Oncology Nurse Navigation: Delivering Patient-Centered Care Across the Continuum originally was conceived by two friends at Congress in 2009 chatting about the need for a “scenarios in navigation” format. Barb Sigler, former ONS director of publishing, was hoping to produce a book of case studies, written by oncology nurse navigators, to provide a practical resource for nurses in the evolving specialty of navigation. She asked me to take ownership of this project, and as I envisioned my little book with its stapled binding it seemed eminently doable.

As time passed and ONS researched the growing  specialty of navigation, the pressing need for an actual multifaceted textbook became evident and, at Congress 2010, when Barb and I discussed the book once again, we realized it had outgrown the stapled binding and straightforward format. I knew the vision had eclipsed into a project that would require a dedicated team of oncology nurses willing to present the panoply of approaches to navigation as a myriad of programs, institutions, and settings have been developed to meet the needs of patients all over the country.

I asked Kathleen Gamblin, coordinator of the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute Nurse Navigation Program in Atlanta, GA, to be on this team and then Karyl Blaseg, director of Cancer Programs at the Billings Clinic in Billings, MT, also stepped up to the plate for this burgeoning project that would become a valuable resource for all oncology nurse navigators. Karyl’s exquisite attention to detail and her innate editing talents were invaluable as she evolved into our lead editor and coordinated the innumerable details into a beautifully cohesive blueprint for nurse navigators.

During numerous teleconferences, we brainstormed with John Zaphyr, ONS acquisitions editor, who served as our ONS “coach,” and eventually selected an eclectic group of authors (from many different settings) who could present the reality of nurse navigation from the identity of one dealing with real-life professional practice. The true heart of this book is the genuine passion of each contributor, each of us committed to the care of patients with cancer and the caregivers who love and support them as they traverse the daunting maze of cancer care.

The following are the contributing authors.

  • Sharon Bartelt, RN, MSN, MBA, CPHQ, CSSBB, OCN®
  • Karyl Blaseg, MSN, RN, OCN®
  • Cynthia Cantrill, RN, OCN®, MPH
  • Penny Daugherty, RN, MS, OCN®
  • Frank Delarama, RN, MS, AOCNS®
  • Barbara Francks, RN, BSN, OCN®, CBCN®
  • Kathleen Gamblin, RN, BSN, OCN®
  • Sharon Gentry, RN, MSN, AOCN®, CBCN®, CBEC
  • Laura Hunnibell, APRN, DNP, AOCN®
  • Mary Lou Iverson, RN, MN, OCN®
  • Susan Keen, RN, OCN®
  • Nadesda Mack, RN, BSN, MBA, OCN®
  • LaTonya Mann, RN, MSN, OCN®, CRNI
  • Nicole Messier, RN, BSN
  • Jackie Miller, RN, BSN, OCN®
  • Elissa Peters, RN, MS, OCN®
  • Jean Sellers, RN, MSN
  • Lisa Shalkowski, RN, BSN, MSHA
  • Heather Stern, RN, BSN, OCN®
  • Patricia Strukowski, RN, MS
  • Jay Swanson, APRN, MSN

At Congress, much interest was expressed regarding the content of the book. The following is the table of contents.

Chapter 1. Overview of Nurse Navigation
Chapter 2. Getting Started as a Nurse Navigator
Chapter 3. How to Start and Expand a Nurse Navigation Program
Chapter 4. Navigation Considerations When Working With Patients
Chapter 5. Breast Cancer Navigation
Chapter 6. Cancer Site-Specific Navigation
Chapter 7. Setting Specific Navigation
Chapter 8. Example of a Successful Nurse Navigation Program
Chapter 9. Program Assessment and Outcome Metrics
Chapter 10.Documentation and Patient Navigation Software
Chapter 11. Navigation Resources

We sought to collate the many concepts of care disbursed across the country imbedded in individualized programs and settings and postulate the establishment of standardized metrics upon which to build validated, evidenced-based metrics and outcomes.

The needs of each patient journey have shaped the paradigms of nurse navigation, but identifying a commonality of focus and patient guidance is crucial. The autobiography of navigation is being written now, and we, as oncology nurse navigators, are uniquely positioned in the trajectory of care to connect the threads

We hold the baton of cancer care coordination in our specialty’s hands as we assist our patients through the morass of cancer experiences, and we have the opportunity to develop successful care pathways as navigators. As oncology nurses, we reach for the sky even as we stand on the shoulders of our amazing pioneers—Harold Freeman, MD; Steve Patierno, PhD; and Lillie Shockney, RN—and the unfailing support of ONS. We are all very grateful to our ONS team who supported and mentored us throughout this very exciting process.

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Nurse Navigator

Special Interest Group Newsletter  August 2014

North Carolina Oncology Navigator Association Leverages 6th Annual Patient Navigation Conference to Advance Patient Navigation

Jean Sellers, RN, MSN
Chapel Hill, NC

More than 275 health administrators, patient navigators, nurses navigators, social workers, oncology nurses, case managers, nurse practitioners, clinical researchers, pharmacists, volunteer directors, and lay patient navigators gathered in Chapel Hill, NC, on June 6 to network and exchange ideas with colleagues from North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina. The North Carolina Oncology Navigator Association's (NCONA’s) sixth annual conference took place at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill Friday Center for Continuing Education. This conference served as an opportunity for patient navigators to learn more about their role in the evolving world of cancer care. Participants were diverse in profession and represented key aspects of cancer care and patient navigation.

This year’s meeting featured keynote presentations from Harold Freeman, MD, president and founder of the Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute in New York, NY, and Ed Partridge, MD, director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Comprehensive Cancer Center. Harold is known for his work with developing the first model of patient navigation that is utilized nationally and internationally. He encouraged participants to embrace his principles of patient navigation to ensure that all patients have access to cancer care. Ed is the principal investigator for the Deep South Network for Cancer Control, a community-based participatory research network. Ed shared UAB's experience in creating a community of cancer caregivers in Alabama to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. Harold and Ed are former presidents of the American Cancer Society (ACS).

The conference was led by NCONA president, Jean Sellers, RN, MSN, administrative clinical director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, NC, and NCONA vice president, Steve Patierno, PhD, deputy director of the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, NC. Sponsoring organizations included the ACS, Duke Cancer Institute, North Carolina Cancer Prevention and Control Branch, Pfizer Oncology, and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

NCONA was created in 2006 to serve as an organization to promote navigation of patients with cancer in North Carolina and to enhance professional practices. It recently became a nonprofit, North Carolina corporation; IRS 501(c)(3) designation is pending. Patient navigation is a healthcare service delivery model built around the patient and was created to reduce barriers to care through the use of patient navigators.

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Nurse Navigator

Special Interest Group Newsletter  August 2014

C-Change Annual Meeting Recap

Jean Sellers, RN, MSN
Chapel Hill, NC

The C-Change Annual Meeting was held in Raleigh, NC, May 15–16. Key leaders from private, public, and not-for-profit organizations came together not only to learn from others, but also to discuss current problems that patients with cancer and organizations continue to face and to find common ground where collective action may make a difference.

ONS leadership was represented by Paula Reiger, RN, MSN, CAE, FAAN, ONS chief executive officer (CEO); Pearl Moore, RN, MN, FAAN, former ONS CEO; Margaret Barton-Burke, PhD, RN, FAAN, ONS president; Helene G. Brown, associate director of community research at University of California, Los Angeles’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Jean Sellers, RN, MSN, coordinator-elect of the Nurse Navigator SIG.

During the ceremony, Harold Freeman, MD, received the LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr. Hidden Hero Award. Harold was recognized for his long understanding of the roles that community and society play in cancer disparities. He is a surgical oncologist, a researcher, and known as the father of patient navigation. In the earliest days of the National Dialogue, he brought an unwavering vision for what was possible by working together and repeatedly has called for this unique approach by all to address cancer disparities. “Dr. Freeman constantly pushes the limits on the power of C-Change by bringing together the best available science, minds, hearts, and hands to conquer cancer for all people” (C-Change, 2014, p. 19).

C-Change. (2014). Future directions: The next five years in a time of significant change. Retrieved from

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Nurse Navigator

Special Interest Group Newsletter  August 2014

Member Spotlight

Melissa Ronk, RN, BSN, OCN®
Stamford, CT

What sparked your interest in joining the Nurse Navigator SIG?
I was so excited when the Nurse Navigator SIG was formed. When I first started in my role as a navigator, little literature existed on what exactly navigation was and how to go about growing and building a navigation program. The SIG has helped to define our role, and the new competencies really speak to the professionalism our role demands. The SIG also affords a great opportunity to collaborate with other navigators and share ideas on what works.

Have any patients stood out to you regarding navigation needs?
I live in a fairly affluent area of the country, so I experience a very wide range of navigational needs in the patients we see. Certainly those who have few resources or are new to the area are the patients who are the most rewarding to navigate because I really feel like I am able to make a difference in their quality of life through connecting them quickly with the proper resources to meet their needs. One patient in particular who stands out for me is a woman who is recently divorced and moved here a few months ago to restart her life. Soon after moving, she was diagnosed with advanced-stage lung cancer. She did not have the option of moving back home, and I was able to assist her in finding resources in the community to help support her, as well as help her navigate a new medical system and find the correct doctors to meet her needs. I also have acted as a support person through her journey.

What is your area of care (i.e., disease-specific navigation or general navigation)?
Here at Stamford Hospital Bennett Cancer Center in Stamford, CT, we navigate specific diseases. I navigate patients with thoracic cancer and also coordinate the lung cancer screening program and track all of the patients who are enrolled in this program.

How long have you been practicing? At which facility do you practice?
I have practiced oncology nursing for 20 years at Stamford Hospital. I worked on the inpatient oncology unit for 13 years and have been working in my role as a nurse navigator for the past 7 years. I have my Bachelor of Science in Nursing as well as a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, which certainly helps in the oncology setting. I am also an Oncology Certified Nurse.

If you could serve as a nurse anywhere for any length of time, where would your dream job take you?
I can’t imagine working anywhere else; we have built our navigation program from the ground up into a very successful program. The leadership here understands the importance of oncology navigation and has been very supportive in growing the program and continues to support this.

Do you have any tidbits of wisdom you would like to share with the membership (e.g., mantras you live by, pearls of practice)?
As navigators, we have a unique opportunity to really make a difference in the quality of a patient’s life—remembering that, in most cases, we cannot change the ultimate outcome. Knowing the resources that are available in your community and within your healthcare system and taking the time and effort to connect patients with these resources, or simply just being that one person from beginning to end that offers a familiar, friendly face and a hand to hold, can make the biggest difference in someone’s life.

What is one thing you would like to see accomplished in the SIG over the next year?
I would like to hear from ONS and the SIG about where we stand on a certification for nurse navigation.

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Nurse Navigator

Special Interest Group Newsletter  August 2014

Oncology Nurse Navigator Core Competency Project: From Anaheim to Panama

Lori McMullen RN, MSN, OCN®
Plainsboro, NJ

I had the privilege this past ONS Congress to present a session on the ONS Oncology Nurse Navigator Core Competencies. Judy DeGroot, RN, MSN, AOCN®, from the Penrose Cancer Center in Colorado Springs, CO, was my partner in crime. She and I, along with Susan Jacobs, RN, BSN, OCN®, from the Disney Family Cancer Center in Burbank, CA; Dominique Srdanovic, RN, MA, OCN®, from the Bennett Cancer Center in Stamford, CT; and Teri Banman, RN, BSN, OCN®, from the University of Kansas Cancer Center in Westwood, KS, worked with ONS project coordinator Heather Mackey, RN, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCN®, for a little more than a year to reach our final product, which was published in spring 2013.

We started the session, “Foundational Tools for Oncology Nurse Navigator Programs: Review of the Oncology Nurse Navigator Competency Project,” with the basic question, “Why do we need competencies?” Competencies include the related knowledge, skills, abilities, and attributes that are needed to be successful in your job. Although not the same as a job task, competencies allow an organization to identify potential resources needed to help an employee develop and learn and assists in the recruitment of qualified individuals to fill a specific job position. Ultimately, competencies provide a shared understanding between the employee and employer of what will be monitored, measured, and rewarded (Wikipedia, 2014). Competencies provide a structure to help define your job—something that has been a challenge for oncology nurse navigators, many of whom have been hired into cancer programs, provided an office, and told to “go forth and navigate!”

An integral part of the core competencies is the practice framework. Although it is a simple diagram, it is a visual to help set a foundation to guide navigator practice as well as differentiate between the role of nurse and non-nurse navigator. The oncology nurse navigator practice framework included in the competency document promotes key processes and relationships that influence how oncology nurse navigators work and the outcomes desired as the result of the work. It also shows that oncology nurse navigators work for and within two operational areas to promote positive outcomes for the patient and healthcare system.

The next portion of the presentation was devoted to the actual work that was done to achieve the final published product—a behind-the-scenes look at the yearlong, evidence-based process taken on by the project team to develop the competencies. Picture an episode of “Unwrapped,” hosted by Marc Summers, or dare I say “Dirty Jobs,” by Mike Rowe! Our final product is 40 competency tasks divided into four categories: education, professional role, coordination of care, and communication.

In planning our Congress presentation, Judy and I wanted to showcase how navigators across the county are implementing the competencies. After calling for volunteers from the Nurse Navigator SIG membership, we chose eight navigators from a variety of programs. They were asked to put together photos and a narrative aimed at showing their best practice for the competency that they were assigned. What our colleagues are doing is amazing! The vignettes were such a success that we are working with ONS to upload them to the Nurse Navigator SIG Virtual Community. Stay tuned!

Our presentation at Congress definitely was successful (whew!), and the contribution that the competency project and resulting core competencies have made to navigation have been far-reaching. In May of 2013, the competency team presented a poster to the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. The poster was presented again at the 2013 Academy of Oncology Nurse and Patient Navigators Conference in the research category, then again at ONS’s 2014 Congress. The core competencies are going international, as ONS president, Margaret Barton-Burke, PhD, RN, FAAN, takes the work that the project team has done and presents an abstract at the International Conference on Cancer Nursing in Panama City, Panama. She will share her experiences and feedback from the conference in the next issue of the Nurse Navigator SIG Newsletter.

Wikipedia. (2014). Competence (human resources). Retrieved from

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Nurse Navigator

Special Interest Group Newsletter  August 2014

Oncology Nurse Navigation: Delivering Patient-Centered Care Across the Continuum

Stay on the cutting edge with the first book focusing on oncology nurses as navigators. Oncology Nurse Navigation provides an in-depth review of the emerging specialty of oncology nursing navigation.

Take a peek inside!
Member price: $65
Nonmember price: $91

From the development of navigation in Harlem in 1990 to the process of developing, implementing, and evaluating a navigation program, you’ll get a complete overview of oncology nursing navigation. Concrete examples and tangible tools used by various nurse navigation models across the cancer continuum are provided as well as a variety of community and national resources that are vital to oncology nurse navigators.

Add the first book of its kind to your medical library to ensure you have the resources you need to construct and sustain a successful nurse navigation program. 

Use code PNAVC10 now through August 28 and save 10% on your order of Oncology Nurse Navigation!

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Nurse Navigator

Special Interest Group Newsletter  August 2014

ONS Announces New Chief Executive Officer

ONS is happy to announce that Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN, professor at the Duke University School of Nursing and coordinator of the Systems Division in Durham, NC, has been hired as chief executive officer of ONS, beginning September 1. Learn more about Brenda and this exciting news.
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Nurse Navigator

Special Interest Group Newsletter  August 2014

Exclusive Articles Available Before Print

The Oncology Nursing Forum (ONF) and the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing (CJON) have unveiled advanced print exclusive articles to give our readers access to important, cutting-edge content ahead of print. Articles from the journals are available on the main ONF and CJON pages. These articles are open access, meaning they are available to members and non-members alike, until they appear in print at a later date. At that time, the content will become password-protected like other articles that appear in print as online exclusives in the journals.

The latest article to receive the advanced print exclusive designation is “Alcohol Use Assessment in Young Adult Cancer Survivors” by Katherine Breitenbach, RN, MSN, APN, NP-C; Marc Epstein-Reeves, APN, ANP-BC, OCN®, ACHPN; Eileen Hacker, PhD, APN, AOCN®; Colleen Corte, RN, PhD; and Mariann R. Piano, RN, PhD, FAAN. The purpose of this ONF article is to determine whether oncology practitioners assess for alcohol consumption rates and usage patterns among young adult cancer survivors and to determine drinking patterns and frequency of alcoholic beverage consumption among young adult cancer survivors. Check out this timely and informative article today.
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Nurse Navigator

Special Interest Group Newsletter  August 2014

Check out the ONS Connect Blog

The official blog of ONS is written by oncology nurses for oncology nurses on a variety of topics of interest, 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, 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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Nurse Navigator

Special Interest Group Newsletter  August 2014

Five-Minute In-Service

The latest Five-Minute In-Service explains how Radiogenomics Offers Promise of Personalized Radiation Cancer Therapy.

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Nurse Navigator

Special Interest Group Newsletter  August 2014

Ask a Team Member

The latest Ask a Team Member column answers the question What Are the Challenges of Caring for HSCT Recipients in the Community Setting?
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Nurse Navigator

Special Interest Group Newsletter  August 2014

Membership Information

SIG Membership Benefits

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Join a Virtual Community

A great way to stay connected to your SIG is to join its Virtual Community. It’s easy to do so. All you will need to do is

  • Visit the "Find a SIG" page.
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  • Once on your SIG’s main page, click “Join Group,” and log in using your ONS Profile. Don’t have an ONS Profile? Create one today, and then return to your SIG to join.

Subscribe to Your SIG’s Virtual Community Discussion Forum
Once you have your log-in credentials, you are ready to subscribe to your SIG’s Virtual Community discussion forum. To do so,

  • Select "Log In," located next to "New User," and enter your information.
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  • Locate and select "Subscribe to Discussion"
  • Enter e-mail address.
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Participate in Your SIG’s Virtual Community Discussion Forum

  • First, log in. (This allows others to identify you and enables you to receive notification [via e-mail] each time a response or new topic is posted.)
  • Click on "Discussion" from the top title bar.
  • Click on any posted topic to view contents and post responses.

Sign Up to Receive Your SIG’s Virtual Community Announcements
As an added feature, members also are able to register to receive their SIG’s announcements by e-mail.

  • From your SIG’s Virtual Community page, locate the "Sign Up Here to Receive Your SIG’s Announcements" section.
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Nurse Navigator

Special Interest Group Newsletter  August 2014

Nurse Navigator SIG Officers

Coordinator (2013-2015)
Carol Bush, BS, RN
Wichita, KS

Coordinator-Elect (2014-2015)
Jean Sellers, RN, MSN
Chapel Hill, NC  

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

Co-Virtual Community Administrator
Marie Borsellino, RN, BSN, OCN®, CBPN-CMA


Co-Virtual Community Administrator
Ellen Carr, RN, MSN, AOCN®  

ONS Nurse Navigator SIG Liaison
Jean Sellers, RN, MSN  

ONS Copy Editor
Jessica Moore, BA, BS
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 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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Pittsburgh, PA 15275-1214

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