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Meet Nancy Peña

Care Coordination, Patient Navigator

Nancy Pena

What do you do at Dana-Farber?

I work as a patient navigator in Gynecologic Oncology. The Patient Navigator Program offers services to women with diverse backgrounds whose limited English proficiency or socioeconomic, disability, or payment status may be a potential barrier to care. As part of my role, I assess the needs of the patient and explore which resources we can provide for them. I also make sure that every patient has education about their treatments, and empower them to make medical and personal decisions.

How does your role fit into the bigger picture?

Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center launched the Patient Navigator Program in 2005 as part of a strategic initiative to decrease disparities in health care. I became one of the first navigators with the responsibility of serving minority groups and helping people, who otherwise would go without, get their cancer screenings and treatments. I am so proud of being part of this initiative, which has opened the window for the community to get better access to care.

Tell us something about yourself most people don't know that affects how you work?

I love to learn from others and always respect others' opinions. I never take anything personally at work; I always think as a professional. That helps me to develop myself, in any type of environment. At times you may see things differently from your manager or colleagues. When faced with those situations, I try to have an open mind and maintain my professionalism by not personalizing those experiences. It's important to remember that we are working every day with different people, of different cultures and backgrounds. That helps me to grow as a human being and as a professional.

What's your proudest work achievement?

I implemented a system to reduce the "no-show" appointment rate from 60 percent to 20 percent in the Gynecologic Oncology clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. By telephoning more than 2,000 patients, I was able to reduce no-shows and learn the reasons why they don't schedule follow-up appointments. They include: looking for a job, confusing Gynecologic Oncologic visits with regular Gynecology appointments, and fear. After learning those reasons, we approached patients in a different way to support them, to make sure they understood the importance of regular appointments, and provide educational tools to encourage them to prevent cervical cancer.

What is your favorite memory/moment at Dana-Farber?

It was when we started to present the Patient Navigator Program outside in the community. It was exciting to see patients have high expectations about having the support they need throughout the program.

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