Fast Five Q&A with breast care navigator Adrianne Alexander
Breast care navigator, Adrianne Alexander, answers five questions to help you understand how nurse navigators help patients.
As part of our Fast Five series, HCA Virginia is connecting with our colleagues to share quick insight into the work they do to support the patients in their communities.
Adrianne Alexander, is a high-risk breast cancer nurse navigator and registered nurse (R.N.) with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) She has over 17 years of critical care experience and has been a nurse navigator since 2017. She supports the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Johnston-Willis Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.
As a two-time cancer survivor, Adrianne is very passionate about cancer prevention. She is an active member of the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation, The Cancer Action Coalition of Virginia, The Virginia Cancer Patient Navigator Network, the National Navigation Roundtable and a speaker for the National Consortium of Breast Centers.
Here is our Fast Five Q&A with Adrianne:
1. Why did you choose to become a breast cancer nurse navigator?
I had been a cardiothoracic nurse navigator for some time and loved helping patients and their families navigate through illness. I changed my field to breast cancer after my stepdaughter was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. I felt that perhaps I could help make a difference to even just one family that was hurting like mine.
2. Share what a nurse navigator offers to patients.
I believe that the primary function of a nurse navigator is to offer education to patients so that they can make informed decisions about their care and be empowered to advocate for themselves. My personal approach is to always remember that along with each individual patient that I work with there is a family involved, and so the education and advocacy that I offer can impact many people.
3. When is a patient connected to you?
Patients come to me through many pathways, after a mammogram in our imaging department, as a referral from their primary care physician, as a referral from another patient or family member or even through outreach I perform in our community. I am always available to my patients as they travel the healthcare continuum. Anytime they have a need or a question, I am a phone call away.
4. What is something people may not know about your job?
Nurse navigators are the "phone a friend" of the patient. I don't always know the answer to their question, but I can find someone that does. We have a broad base of knowledge coupled with a wide network of connections so we can help a patient navigate so many hurdles with insurance, medications, surgery, recovery, physician referrals, and even social services.
5. What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their journey with breast cancer?
Don't isolate yourself and don't be afraid to ask for help. Friends and family want so badly to be there for you. The cancer journey is a marathon and having a strong support team is the best way to finish strong.
Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to get to know you and help others understand more about the important work that you do as a nurse navigator, Adrianne!
As part of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, our family of hospitals in Virginia provides comprehensive cancer services with convenient access to cutting-edge therapies for people facing cancer in our communities. From diagnosis to treatment and survivorship care, our oncology expertise ensures you have access to locally trusted care with the support of a globally recognized network.