How ONS Supports Oncology Nurse Navigators in Care Coordination

March 20, 2018 by Susan M. Schneider PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN

When I worked in the clinical setting, like many of you, I guided patients through treatments, prepared them for managing their care at home, celebrated the completion of treatment, and grieved the deaths of many. I coordinated patients’ care. 

As your ONS president, I have had many opportunities to be the voice that is educating others about the work you do. Our healthcare system is becoming more complex, and advocating for specific roles is increasingly important. ONS’s policy agenda has had scope of advanced practice as a focus for many years. More recently, the oncology nurse navigator (ONN) has become a role to assist individuals in overcoming barriers to care. Since the Oncology Care Model implementation, more ONS members are serving as navigators or care coordinators in these practices. 

Providing ONN Resources

As a subspecialty of oncology nursing, ONNs in ONS have contributed to the development of resources to support ONNs and have successfully established a professional home for themselves within the larger membership. ONS offers a wide variety of resources, including two books, for seasoned and new ONNs. The 2016 role delineation study (RDS) results support the ongoing evolution of the ONN role, recognizing the expanding use of the ONNs in cancer care. The ONN Core Competencies were updated to reflect findings from the 2016 RDS and are a valuable resource in guiding ONNs to function proficiently in the role. The 2017 ONN Toolkit provides ONN job descriptions, financial navigation resources, and other practical tools to facilitate care coordination. Visit www.ons.org to download these resources. 

And for the second consecutive year, ONS is partnering with Oncology Nurse Advisor in providing the annual Navigation Summit on June 14–16, 2018, in Chicago, IL. 

Finally, I invite you to be part of the national conversation with more than 39,000 fellow ONS members who are connecting via the ONS Communities platform. Nurse navigators are using the platform to share tools and best practices. Together, we can achieve more.

Advocating for ONN Roles

ONS is also active in the national discussions about navigation. In November, the National Cancer Policy Forum held a workshop on navigation in which several of our members presented their work. They and others showed how the ONN role improved patient outcomes, resulted in fewer emergency department visits, increased access to care, and reduced cost. I was invited to represent ONS as a member of the American Cancer Society’s National Navigation Roundtable, which aims to improve health equity and access to quality care across the cancer continuum. ONS continues to engage in dialogue with other navigation stakeholders, including the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and the Academy of Oncology Nurse Navigators. 

The ONS Board of Directors recognizes the importance of the ONN role and its impact on patient outcomes. As a result, the ONS Board is leading a session at the upcoming ONS Annual Congress in Washington, DC, highlighting cancer programs that are demonstrating improved patient outcomes and decreased costs of care. 

As your professional home, ONS works collaboratively with policymakers, cancer and nursing community advocates, and other stakeholders to advance legislative, regulatory, and programmatic efforts that support quality cancer care and advance the oncology nursing profession. We will continue to be a voice for you, your role, and the patients you care for.


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