Nurses perform a crucial role in patient advocacy with the goal of making sure that the treatment and care that is offered is safe and appropriate. Advocacy is a central concept of the nursing profession assuring the patients their rights and safety. Patient advocacy is a role that nurses have happily embraced due to the caring nature of the profession itself (Mortell, 2018). Nurses, by personality and training typically do not sit on the sidelines, advocacy is what we do to ensure the best care for our patients. We speak up and make sure that our patients are being taken care of. Even back to Florence Nightingale, she fought to have nurses lead and not follow (Stone, 2020). Since the beginning of the pandemic and the large shortage of providers, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) realized the importance of expanding the role of then nurse practioner in care. The nursing community applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for their forward-thinking and recognizing the potential that nurses have when it comes to caring and advocating for our patient. This is what pushed the allowance of nurses being able to practice to their full extent of their license and education (Stone, 2020). Nurses are typically the provider that the patients turn to in their time of need.
Within my current practice in behavioral health, it is important to advocate for the patients that may not know better in terms of safety at times. If patients come in psychotic and are unable to care for themselves, often times it is important to speak up for the patient, pushing for a hold on the patient from the emergency providers. I am a true believer that some patients’ reality is much different from others which they should be allowed to live their lives as long as they are able to tend to their own needs. If a patients’ reality is so off that they are not able to find food for themselves or even are vulnerable on the street, then it is my job to advocate for the patient to get them back closer to baseline which allows them to function better within society prior to allowing them back out onto the streets.
Another way that I often advocate for my patients is when they come in grossly psychotic and/or have not slept. I will advocate for emergency treatment medications for my patient while in the psychiatric emergency room, prior to the patient being admitted to the unit and being able to see the psychiatrist to prescribe routine medications. This allows the patient’s brain to rest. Sleep can help the patient significantly. When interacting and caring for these patients it appears torturous to allow the psychosis to continue when I have the ability to get medications, allowing for some reprieve. Legitimate mental illness is not something that a person wants or asks for. These patients have no control over their own mind and often times they lack the ability to even comprehend the importance of medication compliance which allows for a better life for them.
Mortell, M. (2018). A patient advocacy dilemma: Is it theory…practice… or an ethics gap? A qualitative analysis. Singapore Nursing Journal, 45(3).
In nursing profession, nursing advocacy is a vital tool for nurses to help preserve patient dignity, promote patient equality, and provide them with freedom from suffering. It also ensures that nurses respect patient’s right to making decisions concerning their health. Nursing advocacy stems from a nursing philosophy wherein nursing practice is all about supporting a patient to promote his or her health, as understood by the patient (Kalaitzidis & Jewell, 2020). It is a fundamental concept in nursing practice and commonly used to define the patient-nurse relationship. There are several examples of advocacy in nursing practice. Therefore, this paper will discuss protecting patients’ rights and addressing nurses’ workplace concerns as examples of advocacy in nursing practice.
Patients have the right to receive a safe and quality care irrespective of their background or social status. In cases where patients are not given equal healthcare services as other patients because of prejudice, nurses can advocate for these patients to receive better treatments (Abbasinia, Ahmadi, & Kazemnejad, 2019). They act as the patients’ voices whereby they voice out the challenges the patients face if they believe the patients are being given unfair medical services. In addition, they may make change proposals to an established medical process or for a whole group of patients to ensure that every patient receives the care they deserve.
Patients also deserve to be respected, treated with dignity, and the healthcare personnel to pay attention to their needs. In several health situations, patients together with their families are confused an anxious. Calm and experienced nurses can assist patients to navigate an unfamiliar system and help them communicate with their doctors. In other cases, nurses educate patients about the medical procedures and tests. Nurses should be well informed about how ethnicity and culture can influence patients’ experience as they also adhere to privacy laws, which will ensure that patient dignity is respected (Abbasinia, Ahmadi, & Kazemnejad, 2019). In general, nurses ensure they incorporate all patient care facets, patients concerns are all addressed, they uphold all the standards, and remain focused on providing positive outcomes.
Nurses can also use their advocacy skills to address the issues they experience in their work environment to promote a positive environment where they can provide a safe and effective care for patients. Nursing policies and practices in the workplace can significantly affect a nurse’s aptitude to provide patients with the best quality care. Therefore, for nurses to deliver safe and effective care to their patients, they must ensure their work environment is conducive enough to provide the expected care (Kerley & Toney-Butler, 2021). They advocate to make their work more effective, safer, satisfying, and less stressful by promoting adequate staffing, availability of breaks, emotional support, mental health support, time for managing stress, and proper technical support and training. Nurses need to be motivated to provide safe and effective care. They can be motivated by receiving adequate pay and compensation including vacation pay, sick pay, and mental health days. In healthcare organizations that do not provide nurses with these benefits, nurses have a voice to speak out for themselves in the workplace (Kerley & Toney-Butler, 2021). Speaking out for these nurses might be intimidating or difficult. However, they have larger organizations where they can safely air out their thoughts and receive support without being identified to their workplace.