The Role of an Oral Oncolytic Nurse Navigator

By Katie Grotzinger, BSN, RN - Last Updated: November 7, 2022

What is an oral oncolytic nurse navigator?

The role of the Oral Oncolytic Nurse Navigator is to assist the patient from start to finish. So this means we find out from the provider when an oral oncolytic is ordered, and then we assist the patient in getting the medicine. So we work with specialty pharmacies and insurance companies, and then often assist with funding for the patient.

Education is another key part of this role, especially because of the misconception that patients will not experience as many side effects from oral oncolytics as they will from receiving it through an IV, and that is not the case. Follow-up calls are another piece of what we do, so we’re calling the patient regularly to check in on them and see what side effects, if any, they’re experiencing. And we help manage this. If the side effects get to the point where we can’t assist with management anymore, then we escalate and communicate with the MD and get the patient seen and see what we need to do.

Documentation is also key. And at your organization, it might not be a nurse that does this. You might see a pharmacist or a pharmacy tech, clinic nurse, or a nurse practitioner performing these exact same duties.

Why is having a dedicated person to oversee patients on oral oncolytics important for patients?

Having a dedicated person in this role helps to ensure consistency in the process and that all patients are receiving the same care and the same education. It helps to establish rapport and relationships with these patients and helping them to manage side effects and adherence, basically having somebody that knows the ins and outs of the oral oncolytic process and what the organizational policies and documentation standards are, especially as more cancer accreditation teams are looking at oral oncolytics as a focus because of the increase in the past several years.

We recently had a QOPI survey, and I had to answer questions about our policies; I had to talk about documentation and even show my own documentation. So having a consistent person in this role is key to passing these accreditations and also providing the very best patient care that we can.