Preconference Programs Are Popular with Attendees!
The annual conference offered a full slate of optional preconference events for attendees on Thursday morning. These popular offerings are developed to help navigators further their career goals. This year included a well-attended side trip to Sarah Cannon Cancer Center, where navigators participated in a workshop on developing and managing a navigation program. Clara Lambert led a financial navigation workshop—back by popular demand—that provided navigators with tools and resources to help patients cope with the financial toxicity that affects their care. The “Coaching to Administrative Engagement/Activation” session explored the American Cancer Society’s Coaching to Patient Engagement curriculum, and the “Understanding the Commission on Cancer (CoC)” workshop gave attendees a crash course on a crucial topic in oncology navigation.
Morning workshops and certification exams were followed by a lunchtime treat. The Taylors, a mother-daughter musical duo, kicked off the official start of the conference to welcome everyone to Nashville!
International Navigation: A Global Perspective
Nancy Peña, OPN-CG, CMI, BS, Founder and Director of Navegación de Pacientes Internacional (NPI), presented “International Navigation: Patient Navigation in Guatemala,” detailing the work she has done in Guatemala organizing a grassroots movement of oncology patient navigators. Navigation is a new concept in Guatemala, a relatively poor country with a diverse population. A multiplicity of languages and ethnicities and a public hospital system that is frequently sued by patients whose care has been delayed or absent are among the barriers that navigators and patients face in gaining access to care. Spanish is the official language, yet at the time Ms Peña began working on implementing a program in Guatemala, there were no Spanish-language navigation training materials, no grants to eligible entities for undertaking such work, and a lack of research and data collection.
Ms Peña outlined the progress of NPI, which started in 2015 as a grassroots organization when she met 6 cancer survivors who were supporting patients, to its current shape. Over time, they have expanded the program to physicians, public hospitals, and other stakeholders. In 2019, they were able to begin training navigators with materials in Spanish that they had developed into a basic toolkit.
The challenges and barriers described by Rowan Robinson, RN, MSN, Navigator/Quality Lead, Netcare Ltd in the country of South Africa, were no less formidable. The small “rainbow nation” grapples with the legacy of the apartheid system, including poverty, inequality, and unemployment. The healthcare system is divided between public and private hospitals and is fragmented and uncoordinated. As the key person in developing her employer’s pilot project in oncology navigation, Ms Robinson implemented the strategy of focusing on outcomes rather than incentive, providing patient-centric service, and defragmenting the healthcare delivery model that is the norm in the rest of the nation’s healthcare system.
Ms Robinson reported that while challenges such as financing the program, understanding acuity, and finding enough oncology nurses remain, the program was successful in its initial goals and has navigated 700 patients to date. In addition, they received positive feedback on the program and recognition of the profession.
These presentations underscore both the growing need for oncology navigation in other nations of the world, both developed and developing, and some of the challenges and achievements that have been experienced by navigators as they implement new oncology navigation programs.
Precision Medicine for Navigators: “Tissue Is the Issue”
In this breakout session, Sandra M. Brown, MS, LCGC, Manager, Cancer Genetics Programs, The Center for Cancer Prevention and Treatment at St. Joseph Hospital, The Leonard Cancer Institute at Mission Hospital, introduced current and emerging technologies in precision medicine as they apply to cancer prevention, treatment, and management. Ms Brown foregrounded the discussion with a review of basic genetic concepts relative to oncology nurse and patient navigators. A key point of discussion was that “all cancer is genetic; not all cancer is inherited.” How that works, and what that means for navigators, was laid out with multiple graphs and other devices.
Case examples and clinical trials were presented to illustrate the role of patient navigation specific to precision medicine in oncology. Ms Brown also explained the role of antioxidants in the diet and how they can be increased, the job of tumor suppressor genes, and how many of the new immunotherapies work. She also discussed the Lynch syndrome and inherited cancers.
Like all good teachers, Ms Brown added helpful mnemonic devices, superhero characters, and other visual stimuli to enhance learning and improve retention. She concluded with a summation of what she sees as some of the likely future directions in precision medicine, including clonal monitoring through liquid biopsy, ways to improve toxicity, and the ability to increase predictive reliability of response to therapy.
Conference Day 1 Wraps Up with Awards, Dessert, and Special Guest Appearances
The first day of the 10th Annual Navigation & Survivorship Conference culminated with the AONN+ Awards Ceremony, where conference attendees gathered to honor this year’s recipients.
The lovely Magnolia Ballroom was the site for the evening’s event. Members of Leadership Council surprised the audience with their spot-on impersonations of country music legends in the AONN+ Music Awards, which recognized important milestones the organization has reached over its 10-year history. All the “celebrities” were warmly greeted and made an outstanding photo-ready ensemble. After a quick transformation back to their regular clothing, the awardees were named.
The AONN+ awards honor individuals and organizations for excellence in the field of oncology navigation, recognizing achievements in a variety of categories that tap into all aspects of the cancer care spectrum.
Here are the winners of the 2019 AONN+ Awards:
Lifetime Achievement Award
This award recognizes an AONN+ member who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of Oncology Navigation and to the Academy. This awardee exemplifies the mission and vision of AONN+.
Sharon Gentry, RN, MSN, CBCN, CBEC, HON-ONN-CG
Breast Nurse Navigator
Novant Health Derrick L. Davis Cancer Center
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Outstanding Local Navigator Network Award
This award recognizes a Local Navigator Network’s exceptional work in establishment of an open forum for professional development and networking that aligns with the AONN+ national mission.
Upstate South Carolina
This award recognizes exceptional leadership and devoted service sharing the AONN+ mission to oncology patients & families & professional communities.
Jo Maria Watson Weathers, RN, BSN, OCN, CBCN
Oncology Multidisciplinary Center Supervisor for Navigation
Greenville Hospital System
Greenville, South Carolina
Evidence Into Practice Award
This award recognizes the contributions of an AONN+ member who has conducted and promoted evidence-based research, which has augmented the field of oncology navigation.
Clara Lambert, BBA, OPN-CG
Oncology Financial Navigator
Bhorade Cancer Center Advocate
Good Samaritan Hospital
Downers Grove, Illinois
Organizational Recognition Award
This award acknowledges employers who embrace the critical role of oncology navigators and foster their growth.
Masonic Cancer Alliance
KU Clinical Research Center
University of Kansas
Oncology Navigator Excellence (ONE) Award
This award recognizes an oncology navigator for his or her outstanding contributions to oncology navigation, patient care, or education.
Susie Ulloa, RN, OCN, ONN-CG
Breast Oncology Nurse Navigator
North Florida Regional Center powered by Sarah Cannon
Hero of Hope™ Patient Award
In partnership with CONQUER: the patient voice® magazine, the Hero of Hope Patient Award annually recognizes an individual whose life is touched by cancer for his or her outstanding contributions to the cancer community.
Breast Cancer Survivor
Founder of the KM3 Project
A deliciously gooey dessert reception followed, and attendees had some time to explore the magnificent grounds of the Gaylord Opryland or to hit the downtown area.