Patient advocacy mainly involves acting on behalf of patients by ensuring that their medical rights are not violated and that all their needs are dealt with in time. As such, nurses are the best medical practitioners to apply patient advocacy because they have a close relationship with patients and provide care for them. In addition, nurses act as the liaison between patients, their families, other team members, and various departments in hospitals or other medical facilities serving patients. In this regard, patient advocacy is important as it helps maintain continuity of care for the patient population for whom a nurse has responsibility. Through advocacy, nurses are worried about the safety of their patients and always work towards providing the necessary care to their patients (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2010). Whenever, nurses identify that their patients are not safe, they should always ensure the concern is fixed within the shortest time possible as this may place a patient in danger. This may include reporting practices by physicians that may put patients at risk.
In my opinion, patient advocacy is about defending the rights of your patients even if you don’t agree with them. Without this advocacy, nurses may delay in addressing the patient needs which may lead to deteriorating health conditions or even death of their patients. Moreover, through advocacy, patients receive health education concerning their medical conditions where assurance is also given by nurses.
According to Sanford (2012), patient advocacy involves preservation of human dignity, patient equality, and freedom from suffering. Regarding preserving human dignity, every patient has the right to be treated with respect. In most cases, patients and their families are anxious and frightened and therefore need an advocate to assist them to face the unfamiliar healthcare system and enhance communication among the caregivers. This may include interpretation of tests and instructions from physicians in a way the patient can understand easily. Furthermore, through advocacy, nurses advise patients on the importance of tests and procedures and also provide the required emotional and physical support needed during the treatment process.
In relation to patient equality, advocacy is vital as it allows nurses to provide care for all patients with high degree of professionalism without any form of personal biases. From the patient’s perspective, prevention and management of physical, psychological or emotional suffering are some of the most critical aspects of care (Harris & Roussel, 2010). This requires nurses to be committed in their work and to be available to patients and their families.
Incorporation into Practice
In nursing, patient advocacy is applied by addressing all the patient needs by putting aside any personal feelings or preferences. This implies that, nurses should serve their patients based on the specific needs of such patients. For instance, there is a new trend in patient advocacy that involves offering advice to the patient concerning the various treatment options that may be available and how to deal with health insurance issues (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2010). This allows patients or their families to make wise decisions about the best treatment option to use depending on their capabilities.
Patient advocacy is the core of the nursing profession because the rights of patients should be addressed before everything else. For example, a nurse should always find out any allergic reactions that a patient may have towards certain foods or medications (Mason, Leavitt& Chafee, 2013). As such, a nurse should report the allergic reactions to the attached physicians or even to the kitchen department. Throughout the stay in a hospital, a nurse should always ensure that all the medication or food that causes allergy to the patient is avoided and alternatives provided.
For patient advocacy to be successful, it is paramount for nurses to have appropriate communications skills and to always use a language that a patient can understand. Due to the nature of the nursing profession, it is also imperative for nurses to exercise the virtue of patience and tolerance while serving patients. As a result, nurses will be in a better position to advocate for the patients in providing all the assistance required.
Patient advocacy also applies in the nursing profession by respecting the cultural and ethnic beliefs of patients and their families. Although such beliefs may not be understood by the nurse, it is important for a nurse to consider them in all interactions as they may affect the patient’s physical and emotional well-being (Benner et al., 2009). Moreover, advocacy also requires nurses to be considerate towards patient privacy and treat patient and family information as confidential. In relation to this, nurses should also adhere to organizational, state, and national laws when revealing health care or personal information.
In order to gain knowledge on patient advocacy, I shall read this about this concept as it is explained by various books on nursing. In particular, I intend to search for these books and journals from the internet as well as borrowing them from my local library. In practice, I will also ensure that I visit various health organizations that offer patient care and volunteer as a nurse. This will provide me with an opportunity to practice patient advocacy and gain more skills on the diverse ways that advocacy can be applied.
Learning shall be done by strictly following a schedule that I shall develop to ensure that I cover all aspects of patient advocacy. It will also be my responsibility to ensure that I read at least one new book per week. To ensure that learning has occurred, I will be doing some tests on patient advocacy where the pass mark will be 60% at the initial stages. As the learning progresses, I shall raise the pass mark to 80% and eventually to 90%. Getting a mark of more than 92% in these tests will be an indication that learning has occurred.
One of the outside sources of quality information that would be helpful in advancing knowledge pertaining patient advocacy is the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. This journal offers the latest information on nursing that includes patient advocacy and the various ways that advocacy can be applied. In addition, this journal also gives practical examples on patient advocacy as explained through personal experiences from nurses (Mahlin, 2010). The personal experiences by nurses will be instrumental in providing me with the basic skills that I require in my professional practice.
Another external source that I shall be using is the National Association of School Nurses. This is an association that is concerned with the progression of school nursing practice and is considered to be the largest association of school nurses. Moreover, this association partners with national health organizations to develop educational programs and assist student nurses by publishing issues that affect the nursing profession to keep members updated on this. As a result, this association will be very useful in providing me with the latest information on patient advocacy and how to apply it practically. Besides joining this association, I can also access various nursing publications that are available on their website.
As I continue to learn about patient advocacy, I anticipate encountering barriers such as time constraints, monetary constraints, lack of latest information on patient advocacy, and lack of support for continued learning from friends and relatives. Time constraints will include the requirement for me to complete all the necessary sections of the patient advocacy topic within the set duration. For this to happen, I shall have to develop a time schedule that will enable me to cover the topic of patient advocacy exhaustively and more objectively.
Monetary constraints are associated with gaining access to the right books and journals on this topic. Ideally, I will be required to buy some of these books or subscribe for them from the internet (Mahlin, 2010). It will therefore be necessary for me to have enough money and to avoid wastage by drawing a budget to follow. In relation to this, I also anticipate some barriers in accessing books, journals and other sources that have the latest information on patient advocacy. It will therefore be important to liaise with the experienced nurses who can guide me about the best sources to use. This will also ensure that I remain updated on any changes that might occur in patient advocacy.
Lack of support from colleagues, friends, and family members may also pose as a barrier in my learning. Without the support of my classmates, it will be difficult to handle group assignments effectively and this may affect my overall performance in this topic. Similarly, lack of support from friends and family members will affect me psychologically and may eventually lead to poor performance in this subject. This barrier will be addressed by developing positive relationships with my friends, classmates, family members and other professionals and practitioners in the nursing industry. Developing positive relationship with nursing professionals will enable be gain access to the relevant information on patient advocacy as I search for an ideal organization for my practical in patient advocacy..
Benner, P., Sutphen, M., Leonard, V. & Day, L. (2009). Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation. Michigan: John Wiley & Sons.
Harris, J. & Roussel, L. (2010). Initiating and Sustaining the Clinical Nurse Leader Role: A Practical Guide. New York: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. (2010). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Retrieved from www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/The-Future-of-Nursing- Leading-Change-Advancing-Health.aspx. Accessed on March 18, 2014.
Mahlin, M. (2010). Individual patient advocacy, collective responsibility and activism within professional nursing associations. Nursing Ethics, 17 (2), 247-254.
Mason, D., Leavitt, J. & Chafee, M. (2013). Policy and Politics in Nursing and Healthcare- Revised Reprint. New York: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Sanford, K. (2012). Overview and summary: Nurse Advocates: Past, Present, and Future. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 17 (1), 1091-1120.
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