The Next Phase of AYA Navigation
In 2008, we initiated our first adolescent and young adult patient navigation program in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center.
We learned in the early years that tired, confused, overwhelmed cancer patients were not likely to walk through our office doors and say, “I need support.”
So we decided to meet patients where they are – in the hospitals where they’re being treated.
In 2011, we expanded our impact at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and The Johns Hopkins Hospital, followed by new partnerships with Walter Reed National Medical Military Center and Children’s National Medical Center by 2014. And in 2018, we began offering Patient Navigation at Anne Arundel Medical Center.
Across our partner institutions, our Navigators interact directly with about 1,000 patients, new and returning, each year. We feel good that we support about one third of the 3,000 young adults diagnosed with cancer in Maryland each year.
We lose sleep, though, knowing that many, many more AYA patients lack support that is tailored to their needs. Guided by our value to ‘Be Better’, and by our twenty plus years of working with this community, we are ready to take a step toward helping more people in a new way.
The next phase for AYA Patient Navigation is sharing the valuable knowledge we’ve amassed and created at the Ulman Foundation with health care providers across the country.
Over the past 12 years of providing AYA navigation, we’ve learned the unique needs of adolescent and young adult patients, the barriers they face in pursuit of the best care, and the intervention strategies that have proven to be effective with this age group.
We have operated programming in healthcare institutions of all types – NCI designated comprehensive cancer centers at world-class academic medical centers, a pediatric specialty hospital, the military’s primary domestic medical center, and community hospitals – and have developed protocols unique to each of these varied settings.
We can’t keep this knowledge to ourselves.
We’ve started to train healthcare providers at hospitals in need of an AYA program with the best practices we’ve developed.
When fully operational this training program will enable exponential numbers of AYA cancer patients to receive proper support, leveraging clinical staff already at work in hospitals across the country.
In partnership with AONN (Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators), our AYA Navigation team has hosted training webinars on the unique needs of AYA patients and fertility preservation protocols, using a curriculum written by us and informed by our experience.
In-person training is available to those who desire an even closer and more customized experience.
This March, we hosted providers from the Livestrong Cancer Institute for a two-day training on instituting an AYA psychosocial program.
Their health-care providers were immersed in our programming and learned about the wide variety of interventions and approaches used at our partner institutions.
Moving forward, we plan to train personnel from many more institutions that aim to add an AYA program, and to offer continuing education and membership to AYA providers.
We’re even working toward creating a Center of Excellence model through which institutions whose AYA programs meet certain benchmarks and criteria will be recognized by the Ulman Foundation, the oldest and largest non-profit working with young cancer patients.
Brock Yetso, Ulman President & CEO, shares,
“We’ve laid the important groundwork for AYA psychosocial programming and we’re excited to share that valuable knowledge with other institutions and providers who are beginning to recognize how essential this programming is to provide a high level of patient-centered care.”