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HL20: Sharon Gentry, RN, MSN, AOCN, CBCN—Mapping a Course for Each Oncology Patient

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2012

In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we profile individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Some are longtime industry fixtures; others would clearly be considered outsiders. Some are revered; others would not win many popularity contests. All of them are playing a crucial role in making the healthcare industry better. This is the story of Sharon Gentry, RN, MSN, AOCN, CBCN.

This profile was published in the December, 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

 "If that patient identifies a barrier to care or a not-pleasant experience, as navigators we need to hear that."

Facing breast cancer is a frightening thing. The chemo. The radiation. The surgery. The survival odds. The lonely hospital rooms and the herds of specialists. The unending appointments and the cost of treatment. And the daunting task of somehow getting through it all with dignity.

Enter Sharon Gentry, RN, MSN, AOCN, CBCN, a breast nurse navigator at Derrick L. Davis Forsyth Regional Cancer Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

"One of the philosophies of navigation is you walk in the shoes of that patient," says Gentry. "It's someone to take that patient's hand when they're told that they have a cancer diagnosis and you make sure that they have a safe journey throughout the treatment continuum."

Today, the Academy of Oncology Nurse Navigators has more than 1,700 members and hosted its third annual conference in September. But when Gentry became one of North Carolina's first nurse navigators 12 years ago, there was no blueprint, no roadmap for her new role.

Instead of following a blueprint, Gentry created a new one.

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