During the keynote address at the Oncology Nurse Advisor Navigation Summit, Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN, chief executive officer at ONS, addressed the future of oncology care by opening with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “The future depends on what you do today.”

Globally, cancer is associated with more deaths than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. However, people are living longer with improved quality of life, thanks to advances in precision medicine (which groups individuals with similar genetic mutations that respond to a specific treatment) and personalized medicine (which uses a unique therapy for each person and integrates genetics, genomics, pharmacogenomics, and environmental factors).

Treating the disease remains a priority, but treatment has also shift towarded increased attention on the whole person. Nurses are an integral part of the cancer care team who can focus on the whole person, particularly when it comes to addressing physical, emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual needs of the patient.

Nevidjon encouraged attendees to imagine the future of prevention and diagnosis, discussing things like next-generation targeted therapies, artificial intelligence-based treatment plans (such as Watson), DNA cages, and interdisciplinary innovation through radiology and gene therapy. She also discussed using home-based devices to measure laboratory markers and manage chronic pain.

“Patient-centered care has always been the cornerstone of nursing, and we must look at our care models with this focus,” Nevidjon said. “We have to know more about individual patients and their specific disease profile, not just the general diagnosis.”

New clinical practice models need to anticipate rather than react to trends in treatment, such as the impact of oral agents, treatments tailored to genetic markers rather than tumor site, and telenursing.

Providers can identify patient needs by understanding their preferences, using big data, and using technology through health or disease monitoring applications.

Nevidjon concluded by providing tips for nurses:

  • Be a lifelong learner.
  • Understand the “why” of what you do.
  • Note that communication relies more on listening than speaking.
  • Accept that change is continuous.
  • Be your best self.

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