Patient Navigation

Patient Navigation Travel Award

In an effort to support continuous learning and career development, Dana- Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities is pleased to provide funding to active participants in the Patient Navigators Network to participate in cancer education-related conferences.

Application Submission Due: 8-12 weeks before the scheduled conference/meeting

Click here to view the full RFA

Patient Navigator Network

The Patient Navigator Network (PNN) was formed in 2007 to bring together oncology patient navigators across Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) institutions and other institutions for training, networking and peer-to-peer support.

Patient navigators include trained social workers, nurses and nurse practitioners as well as trained lay persons/volunteers. In the 10 years, this network has extended its reach to include all cancer patient navigators in Boston. Their primary role is to guide patients and their families through the labyrinth of the healthcare system. Members of the network meet quarterly to discuss barriers and solutions to ensure quality and effective integration of navigation services.

Institutions represented:

Represented are institutions including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Medical Center, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Faulkner Hospital, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mattapan Community Health Center, Tufts Medical Center, UMass Medical Center. In addition, the following community health centers: Dimock, Geiger Gibson, and Mattapan, MGH Chelsea and Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, and Whittier Street Health Center.

About Patient Navigation

A patient navigator and community health worker help to guide a patient through the healthcare system. This includes help going through the screening, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of a medical condition, such as cancer. No two patients are alike. These services are patient centered and individualized according to the needs of the patient.  A patient navigator helps patients communicate with their healthcare providers, so they get the information they need to make decisions about their health care. Patient navigators may also help patients set up appointments for doctor visits and medical tests and get financial, legal, and social support. They may also work with insurance companies, employers, case managers, lawyers, and others who may influence a patient’s healthcare needs.

Patient Navigator Models


Nurse Navigator

A clinically trained individual responsible to identify and address barriers to timely and appropriate cancer treatment. They guide the patient through the cancer care continuum from diagnosis through survivorship. More specifically, the nurse navigator acts as a central point of contact for a patient and coordinates all components involved in cancer care including surgical, medical, and radiation oncologists; social workers; patient education; community support; financial and insurance assistance; etc. This person has the clinical background and is a critical member of the multidisciplinary cancer team.

Patient or Non-clinically Licensed Navigator

An individual who does not have or use clinical training to provide individualized assistance to patients and families affected by cancer to improve access to health care services. A patient navigator may work within the health care system at point of screening, diagnosis, treatment or survivorship or across the cancer care spectrum or outside the health care system at a community-based organization or as a freelance patient navigator. The patient navigator is a primary point of contact for the patient and works with other members of the care team to coordinate care for the patient.

Community Health Worker

Community health workers (CHW)s are members of communities who work either in association with the local health care system in both urban and rural environments. CHWs can offer interpretation and translation services, provide culturally appropriate health education and information, assist people in receiving the care they need, give informal counseling and guidance on health behaviors, advocate for individual and community health needs, and provide some direct services such as first aid and blood pressure screening.