Public Release: 

GW Cancer Institute publishes core competencies for oncology patient navigators

George Washington University

WASHINGTON (April 15, 2015) -- The George Washington University (GW) Cancer Institute has finalized 45 core competency statements for oncology patient navigators, who have become critical members of the health care team. These competency statements were published in the Journal of Oncology Navigation and Survivorship and were created through literature review, focus group data analysis, expert review, and a national survey of oncology patient navigation stakeholders.

"Patient navigation is a rapidly growing health profession given new accreditation standards from the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer. However, patient navigation suffers from a lack of standardization or regulation of any kind," said Mandi Pratt-Chapman, M.A., lead author and director of the GW Cancer Institute, which is housed within the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. "This means that patient navigator practices vary widely, sometimes performing administrative duties that underutilize unique skills and sometimes performing services that should be left to clinically-licensed health care professionals. The GW Cancer Institute Core Competencies for Oncology Patient Navigators are the first-ever consensus-based standards for the field to advance the profession and ensure we optimize all members of the health care team to support great patient care."

Of the respondents eligible to take the national survey, 98-81 percent endorsed the final competency statements. These competencies can be incorporated into training programs, such as a new, online oncology patient navigator course developed by the GW Cancer Institute and funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to ensure consistent standards across the profession. The course will launch May 1, 2015.

In addition to creating 45 core competency statements, Pratt-Chapman and her team also wrote a framework defining the primary role and functions performed by oncology patient navigators, community health workers, and clinically licensed nurse and social worker navigators. The competencies were developed using this foundational framework by co-author Anne Willis, M.A., director of the patient-centered programs at the GW Cancer Institute.

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In addition to Pratt-Chapman and Willis, Leah Masselink, Ph.D., assistant professor of health policy and management at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at GW, was a co-author for the study.

The paper, "Core Competencies for Oncology Patient Navigators," was published in the journal's April 2015 edition.

For a copy of the paper, or to interview Ms. Pratt-Chapman, please contact Lisa Anderson at lisama2@gwu.edu or 202-994-3121.

About the GW Cancer Institute

The GW Cancer Institute (GWCI), housed within the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, takes a comprehensive approach to a complex disease. Working together with the GW Hospital and GW Medical Faculty Associates, the GW Cancer Institute brings multidisciplinary clinical, research, education and outreach programs together in a comprehensive approach to cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. The mission of the GW Cancer Institute is to foster healthy communities, prepared patients, responsive health care professionals and supportive health care systems through applied cancer research, education, advocacy and translation of evidence to practice. http://www.gwcancerinstitute.org

About the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Founded in 1824, the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was the first medical school in the nation's capital and is the 11th oldest in the country. Working together in our nation's capital, with integrity and resolve, the GW SMHS is committed to improving the health and well-being of our local, national and global communities. smhs.gwu.edu

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