Clinical Navigator: Interview with Benyta Babasi Maradkel, RN, BSN, PHN
A new role that combines leadership, mentorship and education
Please tell us about the arc of your nursing career.
I completed my BSN at Azusa Pacific University in 2009. I did my last clinical rotation at Keck Medical Center of USC, where I precepted in a medical-surgical ICU. I knew I had found my passion, so after graduation, I applied for the RN Versant program at Keck Medical Center and soon after began working in the medical-surgical ICU.
When I moved to Santa Clarita after seven great years in the ICU, I felt it was time to leave the bedside, so I started pursuing leadership roles. Henry Mayo had an opening for a wonderful position that combined leadership and education — the best of both worlds for me. I had worked as a phlebotomist at Henry Mayo back in 2006 and still had great memories of the friendly and professional community environment there. Better yet, it was only 5 miles away from my new house.
So, in March 2017, I became a clinical navigator here. I have a passion for leadership, so one year ago, I also started the MSN program at Chamberlain College of Nursing, in the executive leadership track.
What are the responsibilities of a clinical navigator?
I am responsible for the staff’s professional practice. I do a great deal of bedside and department in-service teaching, clinical practice mentoring and staff professional development as well as assisting with the integration of evidence-based practice into nurses’ daily routine. I’m also responsible for ongoing and annual staff competency validation.
Additionally, I’m involved with oversight, support and transition for new hires and new-graduate RNs. I help with clinical ladder oversight and policy development, reviews and recommendations. I closely monitor our quality measures and assist staff in reaching our organization’s strategic goals. Beyond that, I’m involved with program management. For example, I currently co-lead our organization’s journey towards ANCC Pathway to Excellence recognition and lead the implementation of the ARCC model as our evidence-based practice model.
What populations of patients do you generally work with?
We have four different telemetry units. The patient populations include, but are not limited to, congestive heart failure, stock, oncology and chest observation patients. However, unlike program navigators, I don’t do direct patient care. My role is helping staff care for patients and being there as a mentor to guide our staff.
For example, as part of our organizational strategic goals, all clinical navigators were recently assigned to educate staff on better glycemic care of our patients with diabetes. The other navigators and I came up with a plan, developed educational resource binders for each unit and proceeded to educate staff on a one-on-one basis. The outcomes were very encouraging and, thus far, we have reached our organizational goals for the year.
When did this nursing specialty emerge at Henry Mayo?
The clinical navigator is a new role and was modeled after the clinical nurse lead role defined by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). Henry Mayo’s clinical navigator role was established about two years ago and was fully defined by our current CNO, Jennifer Castaldo, RN, MSHA, BSN, NEA-BC, in October 2017.
What in your career history prepared you for being a clinical navigator?
As I stated earlier, there are two aspects to the clinical navigator position: education and leadership. Being a critical care nurse for nearly eight years at Keck Medical Center of USC, I learned a great deal about the role of critical thinking in nursing and took on a lot of tasks similar to what I do now. I served as a preceptor, participated in mentoring staff on various projects that our CNS wanted to implement on the unit, helped with onboarding our new hires and was involved in the policy process.
Also, I founded and was the first president of the Keck Medical Center chapter of the AACN, which was a great opportunity to learn and grow my skills as a nurse leader. Here at Henry Mayo, I have the privilege of working under an amazing CNO whose leadership inspires and teaches me every day. My director is also a powerful leader who mentors me in leadership. Being in my MSN program further helps prepare me to become an effective leader.
All in all, I’m learning and growing every day and getting better and better in my role of supporting our nurses and our organization as a whole.
What personal characteristics and professional experiences contribute to success in this area?
Strong leadership skills are a must. A clinical navigator is like a mediator between the senior leadership team and the staff. Having strong communication skills is also crucial. Master’s-prepared nurses with strong bedside and critical thinking skills are a great choice for this position.
What recent changes in our healthcare system make the use of clinical nurse navigators so important?
Recent studies show the importance of having a master’s-prepared nurse on the unit who can serve as a mentor in staff performance improvement. With healthcare moving more towards value-based payment models, having an expert on hand helps to maintain the quality and safety requirements that are increasingly crucial for hospital reimbursement.
Clinical navigators are valuable team members with strong clinical skills that, when utilized properly, can help increase nurse satisfaction and retention. They can be very valuable in guiding new grads on the right path to success. Also, some literature suggests creating a clinical resource nurse position to supplement a facility’s vacant clinical nurse specialist positions.
How do you view the impact of technology on patient care and the nursing profession?
Technology has had both positive and negative effects on patient care and the nursing profession as a whole. One way that technology can negatively affect patient care is by placing their sensitive personal health information at risk of being hacked. As healthcare providers, we must be extremely cautious in protecting patients’ PHI when we adopt and use advancing technology.
Another way that technology can affect patient care and nursing is by encouraging nurses to follow checklists in the EMR rather than use their own judgment in developing care plans for individual patients. I believe technology is there for us to use and is certainly beneficial, but I do not think technology should be the guiding factor in how we perform our jobs.
If you could wave a magic wand, what would you change about our healthcare system?
I would change the checklist mentality many nurses have developed and encourage the use of critical thinking in developing and implementing a solid care plan. I would also take away the philosophy of, “If it’s not documented, it’s not done.” It is so common to find nurses spending much of their time over-documenting rather than on more fully meeting their patients’ needs.
I am in favor of holding staff accountable, but as a profession, we need other forms of accountability beyond asking for endless documentation.
What are your future career plans? What goals or desires do you have for your nursing career?
My short-term goals are to grow on a daily basis as a leader and to not take for granted the fact that I have the privilege of being mentored and surrounded by exceptional leaders. My intention is to move towards a formal, traditional management role after finishing my MSN. My long-term goal is to become part of the executive leadership team at Henry Mayo so that I can serve our staff and patients to an even greater degree. As a nurse leader, I want to make a difference in the lives of staff who, in turn, make a difference in the lives of patients every day. I know that wi
th the amazing mentors and teams we have in our organization, I can reach my goals and fulfill my professional potential.
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, CPC, NC-BC, has worked as a nurse since 1996 and has maintained the popular nursing blog Digital Doorway since 2005. He offers expert professional coaching for nurses and nursing students at www.nursekeith.com.
This article is from workingnurse.com.