An advocate is someone who represents the interests of another. There is a history of advocacy in nursing, and nurse advocates represent patients to ensure quality care and defend their rights. They will mediate when there are concerns and follow the correct channels to find a resolution. In nursing, advocacy promotes patient equality, preserves human dignity and provides freedom from suffering.
It also means giving patients ownership of their health decisions. Nurses are uniquely positioned to recognize vulnerability, defend quality care and create innovative interventions. Nursing is not just about patients and hospitals but about helping, mentoring and educating those who have experienced health disparities.
For nurses who would like to achieve the highest-level of competency in advanced practice nursing, the University of Indianapolis offers an online adult gerontology DNP program. Through programs such as this one, students become clinical skills experts and leaders in improving patient outcomes. From this, they can become advocates for colleagues, patients, and many others in the healthcare system.
Nurse advocates can influence public health awareness to encourage change and promote healthy living within underserved populations. When people do not have easy access to medical care, nurses can build relationships and be a trusted source of treatment and advice. If patients do not speak English, nurses can translate for them or arrange for an interpreter.
There are many reasons why people do not have access to good medical services, such as living in remote areas. Many vulnerable people do not have access to clinical care. Nurses are well-educated on healthcare treatments, needs and preventative care. They can use this knowledge to educate people in their communities and spread the message through support organizations and social media.
People with chronic illnesses, prisoners and those in the LGBTQ+ community may find it difficult to find healthcare providers who deliver appropriate healthcare. Nurses can advocate for their patients by dealing with insurance companies and Medicaid. They can join advocacy boards representing underserved populations’ needs in healthcare organizations, schools and communities.
Lynne Meadows is a school nurse and advocate. She serves on the National Association of School Nurses’ board of directors. For the past few years, Meadows has been advocating for the future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This year, she argued her case to the congressional delegation from Georgia.
She provided data to indicate what had been observed in schools. She reported that there have been some of the highest numbers of children with chronic illnesses they have ever seen. Meadows was happy to get the news that CHIP will be extended for another ten years.
Meadows believes part of the role of an advocate means letting people know the significance of the position. For many children, school nurses will be their first contact with healthcare. School nurses provide acute and preventative care to children.
The Role of Advocacy
The Code of Ethics declares that nurses must reduce health inequality and safeguard human rights. This means advocating for all populations against barriers to accessing healthcare.
Nurses must respect ethical standards if patients cannot pay for care or demonstrate signs of domestic violence or human trafficking. Nurse practitioners have a duty of care to set aside any prejudice or bias when working with patients.
Nurse advocate collaborate with patients, doctors and the healthcare organization. For instance, they might look over a treatment plan with a patient if the doctor has made a diagnosis or prescribed a new medication. If the patient is unsure about their diagnosis or condition, they can explain it to them and their family and answer their questions.
Many people do not understand medical terminology and nurses can explain what it means and educate patients about their condition and treatment. Nurses work with patients and their friends and relatives to ensure there is financial assistance, transportation and care at home when the patient leaves the hospital.
Nurses can support patients in dealing with the healthcare system. If a patient disagrees with a treatment plan, a nurse can explain this to the doctor. Nurse advocate can ensure doctors offer cost-effective treatment options to patients.
Nurses can support patients in making decisions that are best for their health while remaining affordable. They can discuss financial resources and ensure patients understand what their insurance will cover.
Nurse advocacy demonstrates that nursing professionals care about their patients and will represent them in improving their care. By advocating for patients, nurses contribute to high standards in the healthcare setting and more patient-centered policies and regulations. Nurses can also advocate for themselves, ensuring they have good working hours and conditions, so they can provide quality care.
There is a tradition of nurses advocating for their patients to ensure they receive quality care and to protect their rights. Their role in clinical settings and their relationships with colleagues allow nurses to be proactive in advocating for patients. Nurse advocacy works for all patients but is critical when it comes to underserved populations.
In addition to advocating for patients directly, nurses campaign for better policies and regulations. They are central to the provision of high-quality care and the protection of patients’ rights.