Nurse navigators typically earn a competitive salary, higher than many other nursing and patient advocacy roles.
Understanding Nurse Navigator
Nurse navigators are licensed nurses who perform as patients’ advocates and mentors as they navigate the intricate healthcare system. And as the demand for nurse navigators surges, there is an increased interest in this profession’s salary and benefits.
This guide aims to provide valuable insights into the potential income and advantages of this fulfilling profession for both existing and aspiring nurse navigators. You can explore the general outline of what a nurse navigator is, their salary, and factors that impact it, as well as the benefits that nurse navigators may be entitled to, such as health coverage, retirement plans, and paid time off.
Just as travel guides help us navigate unfamiliar places, nurse navigators help patients navigate the complex healthcare system. They provide patients with information, support, and guidance throughout their medical journey, just as travel guides provide tourists with information about the places they visit.
What Is a Nurse Navigator?
Nurse navigators liaise between patients and healthcare providers, helping coordinate care and communicate important information. They are highly skilled healthcare professionals who thoroughly understand the healthcare system and its various components. Hence, they help patients navigate the complex healthcare system and ensure they receive the necessary care and support.
Nurse navigators are critical in improving patient outcomes and ensuring patients receive high-quality, coordinated care. They provide education, support, and guidance to patients throughout their medical journey, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond. You can find nurse navigators working in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private practices.
What Does a Nurse Navigator Do?
Nurse navigators have wide-ranging and essential responsibilities in the healthcare industry. Their top priority is to ensure patients receive adequate care and support by working closely with other healthcare providers.
They manage tasks like scheduling appointments and tests, communicating important information between healthcare providers, and ensuring patients comply with treatment plans. They are also accountable for managing patient data, such as medical records, test results, and treatment plans.
Besides these responsibilities, nurse navigators provide emotional support to patients and their families and help them make informed decisions regarding health conditions, medications, and treatment plans.
Lastly, nurse navigators are involved in quality improvement initiatives that enhance patient outcomes and the overall healthcare system. They do so by participating in research projects, giving feedback to other healthcare professionals, and monitoring patient outcomes.
Nurse Navigator Average Salary
The average salary for nurse navigators varies depending on experience, education, location, and the healthcare organization they work for. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for registered nurses, including nurse navigators, was $77,600 annually in the United States.
Highest-paying states for nurse navigators
Based on the data, the highest-paying states for nurse navigators are Hawaii, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, with annual salaries ranging from $80,000 to $85,000. Interestingly, some states with high living expenses, such as California and New York, do not appear in the top five highest-paying states for nurse navigators. This suggests that factors other than living expenses and cost of living may influence the salaries of nurse navigators. Therefore, keep in mind that salaries also vary depending on the specific healthcare organization, type of facility, and level of experience and certification of the nurse navigator.
Common benefits for nurse navigators
Nurse navigators receive benefits similar to other healthcare professionals. These benefits include health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and continuing education opportunities. However, because registered nurses are in high demand, some employers may offer additional benefits, such as flexible schedules, wellness programs, and tuition reimbursement.
Nurse navigator salary compared with similar jobs
According to data, it is evident that nurse navigators earn a higher salary compared to other similar jobs. A nurse navigator can make an average of $77,600 annually, which is 11% higher than a care navigator, making an average of $69,052 annually.
On the other hand, a patient advocate earns an average of $32,593 per year, 58% lower than a nurse navigator. Thus, if you choose nurse navigator as a career path, you will be making a higher salary than similar jobs in the healthcare industry.
How to Become a Nurse Navigator
Becoming a nurse navigator can be a fulfilling career choice for registered nurses who enjoy working closely with patients and guiding them through the healthcare system. There are certain educational, professional, and certification requirements that aspiring candidates must meet. Let’s go through them together.
Enroll in a program
The first step you need to take in becoming a nurse navigator is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. This program usually takes four years to complete and includes courses in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and other nursing-related subjects. Alternatively, some employers may accept an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) with relevant work experience.
Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
Once you have obtained your degree through an accredited nursing program, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to get your nursing license. This exam will test your proficiency and skills in various nursing areas like patient care, health promotion, and infection control. You can start practicing as a registered nurse only after receiving your nursing license.
Gain professional experience
To become a nurse navigator, you must possess clinical experience as a registered nurse since most employers prefer candidates with at least two years of experience in healthcare settings. This experience will enable you to develop clinical skills and expertise, as well as learn how to communicate effectively with patients, families, and other healthcare providers.
It also provides an opportunity to improve leadership and organizational skills, as you can be assigned as responsible for supervising other nurses or coordinating care for complex cases. Acquiring this experience is valuable when transitioning to a nurse navigator role, as it enables you to better understand the challenges and needs patients face when navigating the healthcare system.
While certification is not required when becoming a nurse navigator, it can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in this field. There are several certifications you can choose from depending on your skills and long-term goals. The Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) offers a Certified Breast Care Nurse (CBCN) credential designed explicitly for nurse navigators working in breast cancer care. Other certifications that may be relevant include the Certified Nurse Patient Navigator (CNPN) and the Nurse Navigator-Care Coordination (NN-CC) certification.
Nurse navigators are an important part of the healthcare industry as they guide patients through the complex healthcare system. With the demand for nurse navigators growing, it’s essential to understand their earning potential and benefits. By understanding the two, current and aspiring nurse navigators can make informed decisions on whether a career in navigator nursing is the right path for them.