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What is a patient navigator?

Betty Long, RN, MHA
Nursing Specialist

Patient navigators were introduced in 1990 by Dr. Harold Freeman, a surgical oncologist in Harlem, New York who felt that uninsured and underserved cancer patients were not getting the guidance that other patients were. Since then, numerous healthcare facilities specializing in cancer treatment have introduced the role of nurse navigators or patient navigators to help their patients from diagnosis through to treatment and recovery. Because the healthcare system can be so difficult to 'navigate,' patients often need someone to help them figure out where to go.

Think of navigation as what is done and advocacy as what is said.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.