Empowerment is the process of becoming stronger and more confident. Community empowerment, centered in local community, also involves critical reflection and active participation.
Since its inception, the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) has strived to be an avenue that empowers the oncology navigator community, giving its membership greater access to resources and fostering a critical understanding of the perpetually evolving cancer care landscape.
Local Community Is the Hallmark of AONN+
Local communities, in the form of Local Navigator Networks (LNNs), are a hallmark of AONN+. LNNs are small groups of navigators who meet to share best practices, network, and participate in educational opportunities.
The mission of LNN is to develop and foster local and regional networks of navigators in order to facilitate communication and education among peers and improve patient outcomes and survivorship. Joining an LNN will increase an oncology navigator’s network while learning, in an engaging and more intimate setting, how to remove those barriers to care that prevent optimal outcomes for their patients.
The recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Local Navigator Network award, Fairfield County LNN in Connecticut, characterizes the local community nature of AONN+. Originated in 2019, this LNN acquires professionals from all hospitals in the region to become a part of the network, attend meetings, and share findings or knowledge on a regular basis with the group.
The Fairfield County LNN also has a leadership team that includes active “boots on the ground” navigators and survivors. All the leadership team members, which include 1 representative from each hospital in the area, became members of AONN+ to further mentor LNN members toward membership.
Critical Reflections on Cancer Care
Critical reflection allows people to use what they have learned in the past to inform future actions. Individuals who are able to reflect critically on past experiences are better positioned to learn from their successes and missteps so that they can be constantly improving their practice.
The 2 AONN+ conferences, the Midyear Conference in May and the Annual Conference in November, serve as facilitators for critical reflection among the oncology navigator community. In addition to networking, AONN+ conferences allow nurse and patient navigators to discover the latest trends in the oncology field, expand their knowledge, find solutions to problems, and learn beyond their field or interest.
During the 2021 AONN+ annual conference, there were more than 50 sessions covering a wide range of topics that include genetics & genomics, technology in cancer care, policy and advocacy, precision medicine, chronic disease, acuity, fertility, and more.
Keeping up with the evolving industry helps oncology professionals see where the industry is going, so that they will have informed conversations about the latest trends and technology, showing patients and caregivers that they are experts in what they do.
Membership Voice Through Active Participation
Membership voice is an important way that members contribute to effective team functioning of the AONN+ organization. Members feel empowered when they can participate in high-level decision-making, and are more likely to implement changes if they are part of the process of arriving at that decision.
To that end, AONN+ offers its members the opportunity to join or chair committees that draw together individuals with similar areas of expertise. Committee involvement provides members with a way to be an active part of the organization and have a say in its direction.
The voice of AONN+ members is heard throughout the continuum on the committees via policy and advocacy, clinical trials, innovation and technology, professional development, and more. Members are encouraged to start new committees if they feel the need arises that warrants a new committee.
AONN+ members also actively participate in collaborative initiatives to advance the knowledge and skills of the community. The monthly Facebook Live series on the AONN+ Facebook page provides for a unique platform to address current issues in real time, and to connect the community with AONN+ leadership. The AONN+ Heart and Soul of Oncology Navigation podcast series highlights community stories from the frontlines, best practices, lessons learned, resources, and support services.
Active participation deepens the experience of members, enhances the capacity of the organization, and extends AONN+’s influence by engaging a broader segment of the community.
Empowerment refers to both the process of self-empowerment and the professional support of people. As the largest organization dedicated to oncology navigation, AONN+ has been striving to empower the community by cultivating skills and efficacy of nurse and patient navigators. Empowerment enables oncology professionals to overcome their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence, allowing them to discover their potential and influence better outcomes. This is a process that empowers both the navigator community and patients with cancer.
Become a member of AONN+ today and join a community of 8900 oncology professionals.
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