Las Vegas, NV—More than 1000 oncology nurse and patient navigators from across the United States and Canada gathered in Las Vegas for the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) Seventh Annual Navigation & Survivorship Conference. AONN+ is the largest national specialty organization dedicated to improving patient care and quality of life by defining, enhancing, and promoting the role of oncology nurse and patient navigators.
Providers from across the cancer care continuum gained valuable insight on the evolving role of navigation in healthcare. Attendees discussed oncology navigation best practices, as well as the latest treatment trends and challenges in the field. They learned strategies for navigating diverse patient populations by cancer type and environmental factors, and shared their methods for providing patient-centered care in the age of personalized medicine.
According to Sharon Gentry, RN, MSN, AOCN, CBCN, of the AONN+ Leadership Council, one of the biggest benefits of participating in the AONN+ annual conference is the networking.
“Talking to other navigators is invaluable. You find out what’s working and what’s not working for them at their practices, and you can take those ideas back to your home base,” she said.
Ms Gentry touted the value of the breakout sessions at the meeting. Some focused on particular areas of navigation (eg, breast, gynecologic, lung), and some were tailored to various types of organizations (eg, academic centers, community centers, nonprofits). These sessions gave navigators a chance to identify common barriers in their various fields of expertise, and to brainstorm with fellow navigators to find solutions.
The first-ever Navigation Certification Exams for nurse and patient navigators, the Oncology Nurse Navigator-Certified Generalist (ONN-CG) exam and Oncology Patient Navigator-Certified Generalist (OPN-CG) exam were debuted. A specially selected task force consisting of AONN+ faculty members and respected education professionals led this certification effort.
The AONN+ Standardized Navigation Metrics were also officially unveiled. This new set of evidence-based navigation metrics, developed by the Standardized Metrics Task Force of AONN+, aims to address the gaps in the literature regarding the key areas that measure the success of navigation programs. Navigators can use these metrics to demonstrate the sustainability and validity of their navigation programs.
In similarly exciting news, a new collaboration between Sarah Cannon, AONN+, and Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot was announced. Because of the success of the navigation program at Sarah Cannon, leaders of Cancer Moonshot expressed interest in recreating the program on a larger scale. Sarah Cannon and AONN+ were accepted into the Cancer Moonshot program as part of an initiative to evaluate and prove the value of patient navigation.
An array of original findings was presented in poster form this year, and award winners were announced in each of 7 categories from 49 accepted posters representing the best in evidence-based navigation research. Multiple sessions addressed the navigation needs of unique patient populations, such as adolescents and young adults with cancer, Native Americans with cancer, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer cancer populations. In a lively final session on Sunday, navigators gleaned tips for handling emotionally charged situations in the workplace, and how to avoid “taking the bait.” Two keynote presentations focused on mindfulness in medicine and living with intention, with the latter address delivered by a plane crash survivor. Participants left with tips on translating medical jargon into patient-friendly content, and tools for building on their own navigation programs, based on the successes and failures of others. In addition, beginner navigators just starting out in this growing field were offered some navigation assistance, too.
Finally, the winner of the fifth annual Oncology Nurse Excellence (ONE) Award was announced. Linda Penwarden, RN, MN, AOCN, was recognized for her outstanding contributions to patient care.