FAQs

You likely have many questions about Beacon Oncology Nurse Advocates and patient advocacy in general.  If any of your questions are not answered here, please contact us anytime.

FAQ AREAS:
WHAT IS PATIENT ADVOCACY?
WHY A CANCER NURSE ADVOCATE?
QUESTIONS ABOUT ONCOLOGY NURSING
ARE BEACON'S SERVICES COVERED BY INSURANCE?
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HIRING BEACON?
NURSE ADVOCATES AND YOUR MEDICAL TEAM

WHAT IS PATIENT ADVOCACY?

Patient advocates can be friends or family members, or hired professionals.  Among hired professionals, you will find some advocates with medical backgrounds, some without; some with specific oncology experience and some with experience in other fields of medicine; also, some will work for the medical institution providing your care, and others work independently, representing only you.

We have answered some of the common questions about patient advocates below.

WHY you or your loved one needs a patient advocate.
WHAT does a patient advocate do?
WHO can be a patient advocate?
HOW to choose a patient advocate.

WHY you or your loved one needs a patient advocate:

  • Cancer care and the medical/healthcare system in general, are complex, and complicated to navigate
  • You need the ability to think clearly to ensure that you are making the right decisions for you

WHAT does a patient advocate do?

  • Makes sure you are treated well
  • Acts as a sounding board for you to discuss your healthcare issues
    • Keeping front and center what is important to you
    • Has your best interests in mind
  • Attends doctor appointments (or whenever there is a conversation regarding your healthcare)
    • They will listen to the same information
    • Paying attention to the details
    • Ensuring medical errors are not made
    • Facilitating further understanding of the information communicated to prevent confusion

WHO can be a patient advocate?

  • A HIRED advocate is one who has chosen to make a career and commitment to helping patients have a voice and improve the quality of care they receive; choosing a hired advocate involves developing a trusting relationship
  • A NON-HIRED advocate is a loved one, family member, or friend/neighbor whom you trust and has your best interests in mind

HOW to choose a patient advocate:
Decide which areas of help you are looking for:

  • Insurance
  • Treatment questions
  • Case management/organization of treatments
  • Specific understanding of information about your cancer
  • An emotional sounding board
  • If you are not sure what kind of help you need, but you know an objective guide would be useful, call us and we will help bring clarity
Check your advocate's experience, qualifications and references:
  • Advocates with medical experience should be qualified registered nurses
  • Ask for detailed information about an advocate’s experience
  • Ask for client references, and medical professional references

Use your intuition:

  • Is your potential advocate someone you feel is trustworthy
  • Do you feel comfortable sharing your private medical information with this person
  • Is your potential advocate compassionate, and above all, a good listener
WHY A CANCER NURSE ADVOCATE?
WHY a cancer nurse advocate?
HOW cancer nurse advocates can help.
WHAT are the differences between a cancer nurse navigator and a cancer nurse advocate?
Some hired advocates do not have a medical background. WHY a specialized oncology nurse as a patient advocate?
Specialized oncology nurses:
  • Are knowledgeable about the delivery of health care services involving cancer issues
  • Understand the complexity of patient care
  • Understand the importance of taking care of the whole patient
  • Have the ability to anticipate issues related to cancer treatment
Additionally, your personal cancer nurse advocate can help you:
  • Navigate the complexities of cancer care within the healthcare maze
  • Understand your insurance benefits
  • Explore testing and/or treatment options
  • Compare your planned treatment to evidence-based clinical guidelines such as those of NCCN
  • Develop a list of questions to discuss with your medical team
  • Research clinical treatment and clinical trial options, if requested
  • Guide you through changes in medical direction and/or treatment
  • Overcome barriers to excellent care
Differences between an oncology nurse navigator and a private oncology nurse advocate:

An oncology nurse navigator:

  • Typically works within and for a medical center
  • Acts as a liaison between you and your doctors at their facility
  • Educates, advocates, coordinates care and assists navigation of the healthcare system
  • Is there to improve your cancer care experience

A private oncology nurse advocate has the same level of experience and qualifications, but s/he works for you, and is not beholden to an institution.

QUESTIONS ABOUT ONCOLOGY NURSING
What is an oncology certified nurse?
What does a certified oncology nurse mean to people with cancer?
How can I tell if my nurse is certified?

What is an oncology certified nurse?

Oncology nursing certification provides tangible evidence that nurses have the knowledge required to effectively provide care to patients experiencing the complex problems associated with a diagnosis of cancer throughout the disease continuum. The Oncology Nursing Certification Corp. (ONCC) is the organization responsible for granting certification for oncology nurses. The organization has accreditation from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification. The RN must have a minimum of 12 months nursing experience within three years and have completed 1,000 hours of nursing care with adult oncology patients and have completed 10 hours of oncology-specific continuing education. The nurse must pass a comprehensive examination that covers 11 major subject areas. In order to maintain ones certification, there is a rigorous ongoing continual education and professional development requirements. There are oncology certified nurses working in many places where you may be treated – hospitals, cancer treatment centers, doctors' offices, and in-home care.

What does a certified nurse mean to people with cancer?

It tells you the nurses who are certified have made an extra effort to prove their knowledge. It shows the certified nurse is committed to caring for people with cancer.

How can I tell if my nurse is certified?
Many oncology certified nurses will tell you they are certified – because it's a big accomplishment. But the best way to know is to ask. It's ok to ask, “Are you an oncology certified nurse?” It's your right to know the knowledge of the people who are providing your care.

ARE BEACON'S SERVICES COVERED BY INSURANCE?

Currently, private navigation and advocacy services are not covered by insurance plans. However, some long-term insurance plans are beginning to support this type of service.  Contact us for RATE INFORMATION.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HIRING BEACON?

  • We provide you (and your loved ones) a peace of mind that a medical expert is at your side representing you
  • You are more likely to receive the most individualized treatment for your individual cancer
  • We will solve problems
  • You will have access to timely cancer care
  • Reduced anxiety of not having to navigate a complicated healthcare system on your own
  • You will understand your diagnosis and treatment options
  • Greater confidence that you will make informed decisions regarding your cancer care
  • You will be the most important person on the medical team

NURSE ADVOCATES AND YOUR MEDICAL TEAM:

Will my nurse advocate be seen as an adversarial with my oncologist and the medical team?
Beacon's nurse advocates represent you and work constructively with all of your medical team, for you.  We take pride in our positive communication skills and are really there to achieve what everyone, including your medical team, wants: the best possible outcome for you. The primary goal of our work is to bring service to you; however, our efforts also help your doctor provide you with the best service possible through our ability to coherently organize information and communication from multiple providers, handle insurance issues that might impact your doctors' work, and offer additional information from our research that might be helpful to doctors when making decisions.  Your nurse advocate is on your side and represents you. Doctors typically welcome our engagement because of our knowledge and our ability to follow up with patients beyond the time their busy offices can physically handle.



"The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.”

- Plato