The navigation program at Derrick L. Davis Forsyth Regional Cancer Center has grown substantially in the 12 years since Gentry started blazing the trail there. The center now employs nine navigators in various specialties, such as urology and gynecology. Organizations are increasingly seeing the value in navigation programs, which Gentry says have not only been shown to increase survivorship, but also keep patients in the system of care.
"You're giving the best care to that patient," she says. "And we can show that when patients come into our system, they stay in our system for care."
Eventually, Gentry hopes that navigation will be covered by insurance (it's now often paid for by grants and by the hospitals themselves). She also would love to see a certification process for nurse navigators. But although navigation is still gaining recognition as a valuable part of healthcare, Gentry sees the value in her work every single day.
"What motivates me is seeing the patients do so well," she says. "It motivates me to come into my cancer center and there's one of my survivors at the door who volunteers here at the cancer center."