Nurse navigators put a gentle, human face on cancer care. They bring order to chaos and calm to seeming calamity, shepherding patients through their many appointments with specialists, explaining confusing test results, helping to sort through the maze of financial and insurance issues, assisting with lodging arrangements for patients and family members and serving as the patient’s advocate and liaison to the treatment team.
We are proud of our nurse navigation team because we know, as do our patients, that they are dedicated, very special health providers who love what they do and who take deep pride and satisfaction in their calling. Currently, there are navigators in several UF Health Cancer Center multidisciplinary programs, including those for breast, lung, gastrointestinal and urological cancers. Administrators are currently working to assess whether more navigators can be added to other multidisciplinary programs, too.
“From a physician standpoint, it is an incredibly valuable asset to the team; the nurse navigator is the glue that holds the team together. At a large institution with lots of moving parts, there is always the potential for patients to fall through the cracks. It is hard for them to know what the next steps are. Escorting patients through the system and getting care organized expedites delivery of care and helps us provide the care we want all patients to have.” — Thomas J. George, M.D., director of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program and an assistant professor of medicine in the UF College of Medicine.
UF Health Breast Center
For appointment information: 352.265.7070
As a breast nurse navigator, Pamela Clevenger, R.N., works collaboratively with the breast center’s multidisciplinary team of physicians, allied health providers and administrative supporting staff to provide patients with a world-class service experience.
Clevenger graduated from Burlington County College in 1996 and began working at UF Health Shands Hospital shortly after as a floor nurse. She moved on to become an operating room nurse assisting with general and breast surgeries. As a two-time breast cancer survivor herself, Clevenger is passionate about providing caring support to her breast cancer patients. “I chose to become a nurse navigator to help patients find their way through this incredibly difficult and painful time,” she said. In addition to providing compassionate and integral nursing care to her patients, Clevenger likes to travel, craft, and spend time with her family.
UF Health Urology
For appointment information: 352.265.8282
Doran is the genitourinary oncology navigator for UF Health Urologic Oncology Program. Doran has been a registered nurse for more than 25 years, and with the UF Health system for 20 years in a variety of roles. Past nursing experience has been mainly in oncology areas, such as bone marrow transplant, in-patient oncology, the outpatient infusion center and as an oncology homecare case manager. Doran also worked with the Quality and Safety Department at UF Health Physicians, prior to her current position. She holds a bachelor’s in nursing from East Carolina University and a bachelor’s of science from Catawaba College.
Doran bases a great deal of her nursing care on the philosophy of Virginia Henderson, who said, “Nurses care for the patient and family until they can care for themselves.”
“Working with the patient and the family members is my greatest joy,” Doran said. “I involve the patient and family in the process and act as an advocate and a constant point of contact for them while they receive treatment here. And, I work with a wonderful group of extremely talented physicians, nurses and staff, who make coming to work every day that much more rewarding.”
UF Health Lung Cancer Center
For appointment information: 352.594.6392
Stacey Brennan is the Lung Nurse Navigator. She graduated from Santa Fe Community College. Her nursing career started here at Shands, now UF Health. Stacey started working on a Medical/Surgical Immediate Care Unit, where they cared for a variety of acute patients. She then moved to the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit upon opening in 2008. She has recently made the transition to Oncology. “I enjoy being the point person for cancer patients during a very scary time, when they need to have someone that they can easily reach out to. I feel strongly that all patients need an advocate on their side,” said Brennan.
Bone and Soft Tissue Cancer Center
For appointment information: 352.273.7195
Brandi Nunn earned her bachelor’s in nursing from the University of Florida in 2002 and worked as a pediatric hematology oncology nurse for six years before joining the Bone and Soft Tissue Cancer Center in 2008. Nunn was the first nurse navigator hired for the center, and her experience as a nurse in pediatric oncology provided her with a sound foundation for the position. She now serves as a patient advocate and nurse navigator for the patients of three musculoskeletal oncology surgeons, and though she holds a special place in her heart for pediatric cancer patients, her true passion is to serve cancer patients as their advocate to the patient care team. “I’m a very passionate patient advocate, and my goal is to make a positive impact of patients’ lives,” Nunn said. “I know that if I was in the shoes of a cancer patient, I would want someone to fight for me, too.“
UF Health Gastrointestinal Cancer Center
For appointment information: 352.265.0992
Jennifer West is the gastrointestinal oncology nurse navigator. West received her associate degree in nursing from Santa Fe Community College in 1994. Her nursing career began in oncology at Alachua General Hospital (AGH). In 1998 she pursued a new direction in surgical/cardiac ICU. She brings with her a compassion for cancer patients and their families. “I want the patient to know that we care, that we are here for them from start to finish and everywhere in between.”
After 15 years of nursing service between AGH and UF Health Shands, West began a career at UF Health as a clinical research coordinator. She became a certified research coordinator in 2009 with a focus on breast, lung, and adult brain tumor patients. During that time she completed her bachelor’s in nursing at University of South Florida.
Patty Wright started her career at Shands AGH in 2005 as the purchasing coordinator for food and dietary services and then transitioned to outpatient hematology/oncology in 2009 as a patient care coordinator. After a brief transition to pain management in 2010, Wright returned to oncology in 2012 as the administrative coordinator of the cancer navigation program. Wright provides administrative support to all the cancer program nurse navigators.
A typical day for Wright includes processing new patient referrals, scheduling consult appointments across multiple medical services and obtaining outside materials, such as medical records, for new patient consults. Wright finds her role very rewarding. As a contact person for patients, she knows that even the smallest act of caring assistance can make a big difference to a patient dealing with a difficult diagnosis. Of the UF Health Cancer Center Navigation Program, Wright said, “It was an easy decision returning to oncology to be part of this program. I am proud to say I work with the cancer team at UF Health.” Wright lives in Alachua with her family, and in her free time enjoys kayaking, reading, and spending time with her loved ones.