Shawna Douglas On How Nurse Navigators Help Ease the Treatment Burden for Patients With Head and Neck Cancer


Shawna Douglas, BSN, RN, discusses the role that nurse navigators play in caring for patients with head and neck cancer.

In this episode of The Vitals, Shawna Douglas, BSN, RN, a head and neck oncology nurse navigator with Allegheny Health Network, highlights the unique challenges that this population faces, including access to proper dental care, nutrition specialists, and postsurgery speech and swallow therapy. She draws from personal experience to share a story of how she used the resources available at her institution to help a patient find transportation to and from her appointment—highlighting the value that nurse navigators can provide their patients.

Episode Highlights

“My role as their oncology navigator is to help be that one point of contact and to guide them through their cancer journey. I provide additional information resources, referrals, and support.” Time stamp (TS) 1:49

“They always need a dietician to follow them, [they may have] possible feeding tube considerations, [and] they always need to see a dentist regardless of treatment options. Patients also need that dental clearance if they are going to be receiving radiation to the head and neck. Stemming from the dental evaluation, a lot of our patients need to see an oral surgeon for some extractions.” TS 3:41

“There are sometimes issues with noncompliance because there are so many appointments that need to be scheduled. They get very overwhelmed. That's where I come in.” TS 4:37



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