A Day in the Life: Jen Conley, M.P.H., patient navigator
Across the organization, thousands of employees spend their days carrying out exceptional patient care, education and research.
But each individual’s role is unique — and with that in mind, the A Day in the Life Headlines series introduces an employee and gives readers a snapshot of their daily life at Michigan Medicine.
Today, meet Jen Conley, M.P.H., a patient navigator at the Rogel Cancer Center. Conley and her fellow patient navigators add a layer of support and enhance the patient experience by working directly with each patient throughout the treatment process.
Jen works in the sarcoma, lymphoma, orthopaedic surgery, multiple colorectal and multiple myeloma clinics.
8 a.m.: Jen arrives at the Rogel Cancer Center, checks her email and voicemail and follows up on any questions she has received.
“This is the time I take a look at the entire day ahead of me and learn about the new patients who will be seen,” Jen said. “Patient navigators meet with patients beginning with their first visit to the Cancer Center to ensure that they have all the information they need and feel as comfortable as possible.”
She then prepares her schedule for the day.
8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m.: Jen meets with new patients either face-to-face, over the phone or via the online patient portal.
“I will introduce myself as their patient navigator and provide them with an overview of what patient navigation is and present them with a list of Michigan Medicine resources that are available,” Jen said.
Among the resources that she shares are interpreter services, patient financial counseling, social work and therapies such as art and music therapy.
“We have so many wonderful resources here at Michigan Medicine and I view it as a big part of my job to ensure that our patients know about them and take advantage of them if they want to,” Jen said.
10 a.m.: It’s time for the daily huddle with other specialists, including members of the administrative, clerical and clinical teams. Jen or another navigator attends the huddle each day to share any concerns or successes from the previous day regarding patient navigation.
On this day, the multidisciplinary team also discusses patient safety issues, during which each individual is asked to think about ways to limit potential patient harm events.
10:15 a.m. – noon: Over the next couple of hours, more new patients come in for visits. Jen continues her routine of meeting them in the waiting room, sharing resources and discussing their care plans.
One patient in particular asks Jen to accompany her to an appointment.
“That happens fairly often, especially if a patient comes alone,” Jen said. “It makes them feel more comfortable and ensures that they have somebody to advocate for them at a time when they may be feeling vulnerable.”
Noon: Jen attends the daily tumor board meeting with the purpose of learning more about patients’ diagnoses and recommendations for care. This will help her best support individuals when they come back for follow-up visits.
1 p.m.: Finally, a break! Jen grabs lunch and preps for even more new patients who will be coming in the afternoon.
1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Jen has more meetings with new patients — and a few with patients she has met with before. One is Jerry Lawrence.
“I can’t tell you how grateful I am for Jen and what she has done,” Jerry said. “She’s helped with so many things that could cause stress — paperwork, getting me signed up for the patient portal, all those kinds of things. But she also just advocates for us, and if you’re here alone, that’s the most important thing of all.”
3:30 p.m. – 3:50 p.m.: After her final face-to-face meeting of the day, Jen follows up with those who previously came for a visit to see if they have any additional needs.
“I will also use this time to reach out to those who have upcoming appointments,” Jen said. “Part of our role is to help those who are at a high-risk of missing appointments. That could be as simple as sending them a quick reminder or as complex as putting them in touch with resources who can organize rides to and from the medical center.”
3:50 p.m.- 4 p.m.: Before she leaves for the day, Jen looks over the list of patients who will be seen in the clinics tomorrow. That helps her plan ahead and know what the following day will look like for herself — and for her fellow patient navigators.
“We want to be as prepared as possible going into any meeting with a new patient,” Jen said. “The more prepared we are, the more information we can pass along and the more comfortable everyone will be. We know coming to Michigan Medicine can cause anxiety for people, so if we can make them feel a little bit better each time, we’re doing our jobs. That’s what it’s all about.”
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