print this page

BFMC Nurse Earns Breast Patient Navigator Certification

May 10, 2010

Kimberly Whitaker, RN, BPN-CI, of Turners Falls, a nurse at Baystate Medical Practices – Greenfield Surgery, has earned certification as a breast patient navigator, following a two-part certification training.  With a grant from Baystate Health’s Rays of Hope – A Walk Toward the Cure of Breast Cancer, Whitaker was able to attend a week-long conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, during which she received the training for her certification.  Breast patient navigator certification is two-fold, including training and testing in knowledge of imagining (X-rays, mammography, CT Scans, etc.) and training in the treatment of breast cancer.

A breast patient navigator assists breast cancer patients with the continuum of their care, from the day of an abnormal mammography reading through cancer treatment and follow-up.  The navigator is the “go-to” person for the patient, to answer questions about the course of diagnosis and treatment, to identify and work through possible barriers of care (such as insurance, transportation, language, etc.).  The navigator helps the patient identify whom to contact and how for the services and or support through the various stages of care; identifies resources available to patients, and empowers patients to become informed participants in their breast health/cancer care.

Originally a graduate of Keene State College with a degree in journalism and public affairs, Whitaker returned to Greenfield Community College where she earned her nursing degree.  Before joining Baystate Health, she worked in various other settings, including school nursing, Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, New Hampshire, Farren Care Center in Turners Falls, and Associated Surgeons of Greenfield. 

“As a breast patient navigator, I hope to help breast cancer patients go through their diagnosis and treatment as smoothly as possible,” Whitaker explained.  “It’s a stressful time for women, and my goal is to help relieve that stress by being a single source they can go to for help with any questions or issues –  so they don’t have to be constantly trying to figure out next steps, whom they need to contact when, where to go for additional information – anything they need to help ease them through this process.”

Whitaker continued, “Rays of Hope was very generous, covering the conference, as well as airfare and my hotel for the week.  I met wonderful colleagues from all over the world, and learned so much in that one week.  I am grateful to Sandy Hubbard, from Rays of Hope, and Dr. Steve Fox [BMP – Greenfield Surgery] for all their help and encouragement; they were instrumental in helping me obtain this grant. 

For more information on using breast patient navigator services, contact Whitaker at Baystate Medical Practices – Greenfield Surgery, 413-773-2743.