When asked what kind of nursing I practice, I proudly answer that I am the nurse navigator for the Swedish Pelvic Health Program. Without exception the next question is, “So what is a nurse navigator?”
Here’s a good answer.
Looking for help but lost
Recently, a woman called saying that she’d seen our Facebook ad on urinary incontinence. “You don’t have to live with incontinence any longer,” the ad proclaimed.
“That’s why I’m calling,” she said. “I don’t want to live with my incontinence, but I don’t know where to start!”
We talked about her symptoms, related medical history and what she hoped to achieve regarding her incontinence. I also asked about her insurance, where she lives and how far she could travel to appointments.
A plan and an appointment
Based on this information, we made a plan. I gathered her medical records and sent her links to recommended urologists and clinics. I gave her time to review the lists and choose a specialist, and coordinated her first appointment.
I like to think that I helped this woman make a choice between tolerating a treatable condition and seeking relief.
We focus on the patient
Generally a nurse navigator serves as a single point of entry into a network of clinical specialists. Our focus is always the patient. As a nurse navigator, I listen, triage, educate, collaborate, advocate and refer patients to the appropriate clinical specialist, who may otherwise be hard to identify in today’s complex health care system.
If you have a health problem but don’t know where to start, many Swedish specialties have nurse navigators or similar providers who can help you connect with the right specialist to discuss care options.