This Is What Nurses Bring to Your Cancer Care TeamJune 29, 2016
A woman with cancer will have nurses by her side throughout the changing demands of treatment. Nurses provide holistic care for the unique cultural, spiritual, emotional, and mental needs of each of their patients. At times, a cup of ice chips may be the best medicine for a person getting chemotherapy. At other times, a nurse recognizes that a woman wants privacy or someone to answer her questions.
2. Nurses are decision makers.
For Shannon, nurses helped not just with the medical side of her treatment, but also with the decision-making side of things. “Nurse navigators can help you figure out how to get the financial end in control,” said Shannon. They also ensure that each person on your medical team is on board. “It is critical to have everyone on the same page with such a positive attitude,” she recalls. Nurses use critical-thinking skills to help women navigate not only medical treatment, but also insurance and administrative red tape.
3. Nurses are communicators.
As frontline team members, nurses have the widest range of contact — interacting with patients, their families, their visitors, and the doctors. They are the most visible team players and use their daily contact to provide insight and firsthand knowledge to both sides. Nurses are everybody’s liaison, relaying information from the patient to the doctor and from the doctor to the family.
4. Nurses are care managers.
The nurse’s role involves managing and coordinating cohesive care delivery. Nurses are involved in staffing, reporting, and delivering care. If a woman needs to see a specialist, the nurse will make sure that happens.
5. Nurses are advocates.
Of all the roles that a nurse fulfills, none is greater than that of patient advocate. For a woman who is nauseous or experiencing “chemo brain,” advocacy takes the form of notifying visitors about what a patient needs, whether that’s rest or time to fully consider all of her options. Having a nurse in her corner helps a patient deal with the embarrassing, frightening experiences that come with cancer treatment.
6. Nurses are teachers.
Women who receive a cancer diagnosis often encounter a steep learning curve. Not only do they want to know about the causes of their disease, but they also want a clear description of procedures and treatment outcomes. Nurses help patients grasp medical terminology; they explain how to take medications; and they spell out follow-up procedures and home care. As Shannon learned, when you have questions, the nurses have the answers.
All members of the cancer care team play critical roles, and they must work together in overcoming every challenge. But the nurse is a vital link among those team members, acting as caregiver, care manager, and patient advocate. By working together, the care team doesn’t compete for medals, but for something far greater: the lives of each and every patient.