How can nurse navigators change outcomes, help patients?
Anytime you enter a complex healthcare journey, it can feel overwhelming. The research, the medical jargon to learn, the enumerable ways your life will change.
One way to deal with this complexity is turning to a nurse navigator. Often called a middleman between the patient and clinical care staff, nurse navigators help guide the patient through the treatment process by connecting them to resources and information so they can make better decisions.
Nurse navigators play a crucial role in ensuring patients receive the best possible care and support. This role has gained prominence in recent years due to the increasing complexity of healthcare and the need for personalized, patient-centered care. Every nurse navigator has their own specialty, and they can help patients with all the nuances that go into receiving the best care.
“What I do is navigate people through the process of their breast reconstruction,” said Deborah Tedesco, a nurse practitioner at Advent Health Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and President Florida Nurse Practitioners. “The patients that we see here are patients who have to undergo a mastectomy. I work with surgeons here, as the reconstruction happens right at the start of the mastectomy.”
When discussing the challenges women face as they deal with a difficult diagnosis, Tedesco said she focuses on their wellness, but doesn’t want to lose sight of their body, their femininity, and their future beyond overcoming breast cancer.
“A lot of times, women can have unrealistic expectations, because it is not cosmetic,” she said. “This is not an elective breast augmentation, and it doesn’t look like an augmentation looks. We developed our education process so that women do have realistic expectations.”
Tedesco said she can be an easy-to-talk-to resource for women dealing with this difficult process, and can help them feel good about moving forward. Beyond helping with the process of reconstruction, she also is a key resource to help women manage their pain following their procedures.
At its core, a nurse navigator serves as a dedicated advocate and resource for patients and their families. They possess extensive clinical knowledge and expertise, each specializing in a particular area such as oncology, cardiology, or maternal-child health. The primary objective of all nurse navigators is to facilitate seamless communication and collaboration among the various healthcare providers involved in a patient’s care, including doctors, specialists, therapists, and social workers.
Nurse navigators ensure that patients fully understand their medical condition and the implications of various treatment choices, empowering them to make informed decisions about their healthcare. Beyond their formal role, they can offer emotional support and serve as a shoulder to lean on during difficult times. They are empathetic listeners who can address patients’ fears, anxieties, and questions. This emotional support is integral to the overall well-being of patients and can contribute to improved outcomes.
As you approach your next healthcare journey, look for nurse navigators and utilize them as a resource that can help you achieve your best health outcomes.