Cancer Patient Navigator


Navigation Training - Session on Client CommunicationOur September 2017 training at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, MA was a success and we look forward to offering another training at Kripalu in Fall 2018. Stay tuned for further details.

Smith Center’s innovative Patient Navigation Training offers the country’s only comprehensive learning experience in the practice of integrative cancer care navigation.

Our goal is to provide each participant with the knowledge and resources to establish an integrative navigation practice that offers each client individualized, holistic support throughout the entire cancer experience, from screening and diagnosis through treatment, recovery, survivorship, and end-of-life.

Practice Sessions with a Patient Navigator

The training prepares navigators to offer the type of education, advocacy, guidance, support, and companionship that improves quality of life and contributes to more patients successfully completing treatment.

Who Should Attend?

Smith Center’s Patient Navigation Training is open to both new and experienced navigators. It is particularly useful to oncology care providers (physicians, nurses, counselors, and social workers) and integrative practitioners who would like to expand their skills and services to include holistic and comprehensive navigation support to their patients and clients. Our past trainees professionals serve diverse populations and come from a variety of backgrounds. Lay navigators are also welcome to participate in the training.

Program Structure

  • 1 Pre-Training Seminar – We offer one self-directed learning module that includes reading assignments and recorded webinar prior to our on-site training.
  • 4 1/2 Day On-Site Training – Participants gather at our retreat facility for intensive didactic and experiential sessions in a relaxed, intimate atmosphere conducive to learning.

Our training is a unique blend of didactic and experiential sessions that cover navigation and integrative techniques. The structure is based upon our Integrative Model and reflects the structure of our signature Cancer Retreats. This means that participants are fully engaged, body and mind, as they explore various modes of healing through discussion and physically, through practice. Each day begins with yoga and offers time for questions and group discussion, as well as ample opportunity to practice learned skills and seek individual assistance.

The training is held at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, located in Stockbridge, MA. Kripalu is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to empowering people and communities to realize their full potential through the transformative wisdom and practice of yoga.

This intensive program covers topics such as:

Morning Yoga at Patient Navigation Training

  • Client Assessment
  • Stress Reduction Techniques
  • Survivorship Issues
  • The Art of Healing
  • Spiritual Support
  • Nutrition
  • Yoga
  • Application of Complementary Modalities
  • Building Trust
  • Difficult Conversations
  • Cultural Humility
  • Planning Your Integrative Practice
  • Communication Skills

Training Leadership & Faculty

Our faculty is comprised of internationally recognized integrative practitioners, cancer coaches, cancer survivors, distinguished physicians, clinical health professionals, and national leaders in cancer care. The training is co-led by:

Carole O'Toole

Carole O’Toole, MS, is Director of Smith Center’s Institute for Integrative Oncology Navigation. She oversees our hospital and community-based patient navigation programs, and was instrumental in the development of the integrative navigation model used in the training. She has been involved with cancer navigation for 15 years, is the author of two books on integrative cancer care, and has chaired the DC Cancer Consortium Workgroup on Patient Navigation Training and Education.

Laura Pole

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, is an Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist and head chef forSmith Center retreats. She is a consultant and educator in palliative care for the Palliative Care Partnership of the Roanoke Valley and the Virginia POST Collaborative, former nurse educator for the Virginia Association of Hospices, and past president of the Southwest Virginia Pain Initiative.

Together, they bring more than 40 years of experience in navigation, integrative cancer care, clinical training, and teaching expertise to the training.

Recent faculty includes:

  • Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, co-founder of Five to Thrive
  • Gary Deng, MD, PhD, Medical Director, Integrative Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Greg Finch, DMin, MDiv, MTS, BEd, Founder, Wild Geese Among Us
  • Hunter Groninger, MD, Staff Clinician, Pain and Palliative Care Service, National Institutes of Health
  • Kavita Avula, PsyD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist
  • Ted Billings, LCSW, Psychotherapist
  • Michelle Chatman, PhD, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, University of the District of Columbia
  • Matt Mumber, MD, Radiation Oncologist, Co-Director of the Harbin Integrative Oncology Program
  • Kymberly Sevilla, AHFP, E-RYT, Yoga and Exercise Specialist

The program offers a student/faculty ratio of 2:1 to allow for individualized attention and to facilitate close interaction with fellow participants, which enhances the learning experience and fosters additional support for the individual navigator.

The training also provides extensive educational literature and resources on integrative therapies as well as patient forms and resources needed to establish an integrative navigation practice.

Post-training support is offered to students through list serves, educational teleconferences and continued access to faculty.

Following the training, participants are able to: 

  • Define cancer navigation and the role of navigators at every step of the cancer journey
  • Effectively communicate with and assist diverse and medically underserved patients and caregivers through the entire cancer continuum
  • Describe integrative cancer care and basic integrative cancer therapies
  • Apply basic, evidence-based integrative mind-body therapies with clients
  • Assist patients in identifying and accessing medical and integrative care
  • Effectively educate others about integrative cancer care navigation
  • Identify the components needed to build an effective integrative navigation practice
  • Enhance their organization’s ability to meet the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer patient navigation standards

Certificate of Completion:

All participants will be awarded a certificate of Completion for Training in Integrative Cancer Care Navigation provided they successfully complete all Pre-Conference Self-Directed Learning Modules, attend the entire on-site training, and turn in completed evaluations.

Continuing Education:

Smith Center and Kripalu offer continuing education credits for the training, though the actual hours awarded vary by profession. More information can be found here.

Feedback from Training Alumni

“A top notch, beautifully designed, thoughtful and elegantly delivered program that is both personally and professionally enriching.”

“…my heart is full and my brain is on overtime with ideas and possibilities… I am forever changed for the better.”

“This training covers so much, ranging from the nuts and bolts of navigation to spiritual care and everything in between.”

“The caring compassion and desire to help us was evident in all staff.”

“The entire spectrum of speakers and offerings were beautifully delivered and integrated. I was served by each and every piece of the training.”

Patient Navigation Training in Integrative Cancer Care

To Top