A nurse navigator provides support and guidance to patients and their families. To become a nurse navigator, you will typically need a degree or diploma in nursing, though a bachelor's or master's degree may be preferred. You will also need a nursing license in your jurisdiction. Additionally, you will likely need experience and skills related to supporting and educating patients to qualify for this job.
In most places, you will have to complete a nurse education program to become a nurse navigator. While you can become a nurse in many jurisdictions after completing an associate's degree or diploma program, many employers prefer to hire nurse navigators who have more advanced nursing educations. For many positions, you will need to earn a bachelor's degree, which will typically translate into about four years of higher education. There are some employers, however, who will only offer this job to individuals who hold master's degrees. In such a case, you may need to complete a four-year bachelor's program followed by a couple of years in graduate school.
A nursing license also is typically required when you want to become a nurse navigator. In most places, you will have to apply with a nurse licensing agency, complete an application, and pay a fee to obtain a license. You may also have to demonstrate that you have completed an accredited nursing program before you can qualify for licensing. When all of your paperwork is in order, you will then have to take a nurse licensing exam. If you pass, you will have the right to work as a registered nurse in your jurisdiction.
In many cases, you will need nursing experience to become a nurse navigator. Many employers will not hire newly licensed nurses for this position but prefer candidates with at least a few years of experience. You can boost your chances of qualifying for a position as a nurse navigator by getting experience in the field of medicine in which you want to work. If, for example, your goal is to work in this position with cancer patients, you may do well to get experience as a nurse in oncology, which focuses on cancer.
The skills and characteristics you need to become a nurse navigator may be similar to those you need to succeed as a general type of nurse. To get hired and do well in this job, you will typically need to get along well with others and have a talent for providing support and guidance to patients without seeming overbearing. You will also need good communication skills to educate patients and their families on their medical conditions and treatment options.