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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

"You start looking at all the socioeconomic factors around her as well as educating her on the specific type of disease that she has and what to expect next in the journey," Gentry says.

Everything Gentry finds out about the patient will help shape her care. Is she the single breadwinner in the family, and if so, how can the care team customize treatment so that she can hold down her job? Does she have young children or is she caring for aging parents? What's her family history; does she need to meet with a geneticist? Does she have insurance? Does she have transportation to and from treatment? What are her spiritual needs? All of these factors add up to care that is tailor-made for each patient. 

"We're looking at the individual," Gentry says. "You've reached out to the patient, and you've respected their very personalized care plans."

Gentry says that navigation is "another true nursing role." Nurses are not only compassionate advocates for patients, but they're also able to explain and direct the clinical aspects of care, from scheduling appointments to figuring out whether the patient is eligible for clinical trials.

"The one thing that makes a nurse stand out in this role is you do a more holistic evaluation of the patient. You can read that clinical report, and you know that patient A's report is much different than patient B," she says.

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