What is patient advocacy?
According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), the definition of Patient Advocacy is:
- Protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities;
- Prevention of illness and injury;
- Alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response
- Advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.
From years, Patient Advocacy has saved lives, helped in maintaining the good health of patients, decreased the nurses’ workload, ensured caring and quality care of patients, and has minimized burden on the healthcare system.
Nurses, specifically Registered Nurses tend to spend the most time with their patients, carrying out the human side of healthcare and understand how certain healthcare policies and procedures can directly affect a patient’s life. They also help patients make informed about their decisions regarding their health, translate medical terms, and help patients make ethical decisions. Nurses can use these experiences to advocate patients for a better work environment by making sure everyone is treated fairly in the workplace, and they’re able to provide care to their patients safely and reliably.
How important is patient advocacy?
A well-experienced nurse can help patients navigate an unfamiliar system ensuring their concerns are addressed. With advanced education and extensive experience caring for patients and their families, RNs are equipped to serve as advocates by providing a much-needed voice for patients, their communities, their profession, and perhaps just as important, themselves.
Are registered nurses jobs estimated to skyrocket?
According to the American Nurses Association (ANA) by 2022, there will be far more registered nurse jobs available than any other profession, at more than 100,000 per year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new RNs for expansion and replacement of retirees, and to avoid a nursing shortage.
How can nurses advocate for their patients?
- Ensure the safety of patients
RNs have to ensure that the patient is safe when being treated in a healthcare facility, and when they are discharged by communicating with physicians about the patient’s need for home health or assistance after discharge.
- RNs must give patients a voice
Nurses should stay in the patients’ rooms when they are vulnerable while the doctor explains their diagnosis and treatment options to help them ask questions, get answers, and translate information from medical jargon.
RNs should educate patients on how to manage their condition to improve the quality of their everyday life. For example: if the patient declines to take a certain medication or refuses treatment, the nurse has a responsibility to provide information so the patient can be educated and informed to offer support.
- Protect the rights of patients
Nurses should protect patients’ rights by knowing their wishes and communicate the difficulties of a patient to the family. Nurses must make the patient their priority as advocating is about standing up for the rights of patients and firmly defending them.
- Being a resource
Nurses should be aware of resources in the community and help patients find resources inside or outside the hospital to support their well-being. At times families are more comfortable discussing the difficulties they experience due to treatment costs with nurses, rather than physicians or other healthcare professionals and the conversations nurses have with patients can mitigate these situations, helping patients access the healthcare services they need.
Watch the following video to know more about nursing advocacy
The future of nursing
Registered Nurses practicing advocacy should develop the right knowledge, communication, and nursing skills to be an effective nurse-patient advocate as advocacy is as essential to the role of a nurse as any other aspect of nursing care. Nurses are in the perfect position to serve as patient advocates as they interact with patients more than any other healthcare provider and can use the above techniques and principles to be excellent patient advocates.
“The American Nurses Association (ANA) believes that advocacy is the key to advancing nursing, and invites all members to unite to drive forward health care change.”