Academy of Oncology Nurse Navigators Advances Patient Navigation Profession at Second Annual Navigation and Survivorship Conference

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This year’s largest gathering of oncology nurse and patient navigators was held in San Antonio, Texas. Attendees connected with one another to discuss the changing landscape of patient navigation and survivorship care for patients with cancer, and to define ways to further develop the profession.

Sharon Gentry, RN, MSN, AOCN, CBCN, opens the Second Annual Navigation and Survivorship Conference

Sharon Gentry, RN, MSN, AOCN, CBCN, opens the Second Annual Navigation and Survivorship Conference.

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More than 300 nurse and patient navigators gathered to discuss the advancement of their profession in the changing healthcare system at the Second Annual Navigation and Survivorship Conference. Over the 3 days of the Academy of Oncology Nurse Navigators (AONN) conference, attendees were able to make new connections with members in their field, share best practices, and learn from each others’ experiences. “Ultimately, the networking of these professionals is so important to patient care, because it enables a forum for the sharing of ideas and experiences to impact practice,” said Sean T. Walsh, Executive Director.

Given the recently released Cancer Program Standards 2012: Ensuring Patient-Centered Care from the Commission on Cancer, many of those in attendance wanted to better understand how to make certain that they would be able to meet sections 3.1 (Patient Navigation Process), 3.2 (Psychosocial Distress Screening), and 3.3 (Survivorship Care Plan) of the new standards. Thus the first 2 days focused mainly on patient navigation with sessions discussing practical ways to utilize the NCCCP Navigation Matrix, to identify and remove patient care barriers, to collaborate with other professionals for optimal patient care, and to develop best practices within the navigator community. Two highlights of the second day were the Patient Advocacy Keynote given by Andy Miller, MHSE, CHES, Executive Vice President of Mission for LIVESTRONG, and the poster podium sessions moderated by Lillie Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, CBCN, CBPN-IC. The five posters presented were chosen from over two dozen displayed at the conference, and they illustrated the great research and endeavors of nurse and patient navigators.

The morning sessions on the third day focused on survivorship, providing a road map of how to set up and grow a program given by a panel from the George Washington Cancer Institute at George Washington University Medical Center, as well as two other examples of successful programs. The first example was from St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center in Grand Junction, Colorado, and the other was from John Muir Cancer Institute in Walnut Creek, California. The final sessions in the afternoon illustrated ways to ensure optimal patient care. The first session focused on how to develop and implement a psychosocial distress–screening tool at the point of care via iPads and home-based assessments to meet the needs of patients. This presentation showcased the work and ongoing journey at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, where they are starting to expand this tool into everyday practice. Finally, attendees were reminded that compassion is a necessary component of quality patient care. Using the example of the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care, attendees were told to stay compassionate and make time for self-healing. The highlight of the final day was the Survivorship Keynote given by Lillie Shockney, where she told the audience of her personal history with cancer from childhood through her own encounter with the disease and how she has persevered as a survivor.

As with the previous year’s conference, attendees had multiple opportunities to network. Specifically, breakout sessions on the second day helped navigators and administrators engage in open dialogue about their role in advancing patient care in various cancers. In hopes for greater collaboration among the various navigators, AONN is starting an initiative focused on building groups within its member community to foster best practices and stay in touch with the needs of all members. Next year, AONN will continue to advance the navigation profession with multiple educational offerings, research initiatives, and the Third Annual Navigation and Survivorship Conference, which will be held in Phoenix, Arizona, September 14-16, 2012.

About AONN
The Academy of Oncology Nurse Navigators, Inc. (AONN) is the largest national specialty organization dedicated to improving patient care and quality of life by defining, enhancing, and promoting the role of oncology nurse and patient navigators. Our organization currently consists of over 1,900 members, and was founded in May 2009 to provide a network for all professionals involved and interested in patient navigation and survivorship care services to better manage the complexities of the cancer care treatment continuum for their patients. We view our organization as one consisting of “professional patient advocates,” and to that end we support and serve our members.

Contact AONN:
Sean T. Walsh
Executive Director
Academy of Oncology Nurse Navigators, Inc.
PO Box 7568, Monroe Twp., NJ 08831
t: 732.992.1022


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