In March 2016, the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) in conjunction with the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) completed a study focused on the role of nurse navigators in oncology settings. Compared to a previous study conducted in 2011, the new Nurse Navigator Role Delineation Study yielded insightful information as to how the position of nurse navigator has grown and evolved since the earlier study.
Approximately 500 nurse navigators responded to the survey. Results indicated that the nurse navigator role has become more defined in recent years. More nurses have assumed the title of nurse navigator, and the position is being implemented at most cancer sites.
Defining the Position of Nurse Navigator
A portion of the survey asked respondents to distinguish between the oncology nurse navigator and clinical practice nurse roles. Their answers provided clear information to determine the distinctive set of tasks assigned to a nurse navigator as opposed to a clinical practice nurse. Moreover, this identified the presence of a unique body of knowledge for the navigator role.
The survey, given to nurse navigators in December 2015, highlighted background and general information, the tasks and responsibilities of an oncology nurse navigator, the knowledge required to complete the responsibilities, and additional comments. A committee collected and reviewed the data in February 2016.
The current ONS Oncology Nurse Navigator Core Competencies will be updated to reflect the new information the study uncovered. With the clearer guidance, implementing well-defined nurse navigator roles will be easier and more straightforward. ONS will continue to explore the ways in which nurse navigators fit into the care coordination of patients with cancer.
Understanding the Unique Needs of Our Nurse Navigator Members
ONS and ONCC are currently exploring the best options to support and assess knowledge and competencies for nurse navigator roles. Although the role is still new and implementation of nurse navigators throughout the country is still growing, ONS will continue to explore the interest for a certificate of added qualification program, as well as other innovative solutions.
The ONS/ONCC Nurse Navigation Role Delineation Study will be published and available in the near future.