What Is Advocacy?
As frontline health care professionals, nurses play a vital role in advocating for patients. This can include guiding patients through a complex medical system, translating medical terms and helping them make informed decisions about their health.
Nursing advocacy can also involve promoting policies inside health care settings that improve patient outcomes. This can lead to higher standards, better regulations and a more patient-centered work environment.
Advocacy for patients is an important part of patient-centered care. It can improve healthcare outcomes by promoting active listening, proactive communication, and encouraging patient participation in treatment planning and goals.
One of the most basic ways that nurses can be advocates for their patients is to encourage them to make their own decisions about their health. Whether they’re deciding whether or not to take certain medications, reject treatments, or refuse to participate in research, nurses should take their patient’s decisions seriously.
Nurses should also advocate for patients when they are struggling with the financial costs of their treatment. These conversations can help families access the resources they need to receive care.
Nurses are in a unique position to advocate for patients, both one-on-one and through their advocacy efforts. This includes helping patients understand their rights and how to exercise them, as well as advocating for access to patient resources that can help them navigate the healthcare system more effectively.
The ANA Code of Ethics states that all nurses should care for their patients “with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth and uniqueness of every individual, unrestricted by considerations of social or economic status, personal attributes or the nature of health problems.”
Another key aspect of patient advocacy is explaining medical terms, procedures and options to patients who are not familiar with them. This can improve patient confidence and self-sufficiency, as well as improve healthcare outcomes.
Nurses should also observe patients’ right to confidentiality and the ability to refuse treatment when appropriate. They should also ensure that patients are informed about hospital policies and procedures, including ethics committees, patient representatives and other mechanisms for resolving disputes or conflicts.
Vulnerable patients need nursing advocacy to help them ask questions and get satisfying answers when they are in the doctor’s office. Nurses can stay in the room with them while the doctor explains treatment options and diagnosis to give them the confidence and skills they need to understand and communicate.
Advocacy can also be used outside the office to ensure safety, help patients with transportation and financial assistance and connect them with community resources. These interventions are important to ensuring patients receive the care they need and deserve.
Advocacy is an essential component of addressing social determinants of health (SDOH). At the individual and organizational levels, nurses are encouraged to assume leadership roles in the effort to address SDOH and contribute to policy efforts to improve SDOH.
Nurses work long hours and face a variety of physical and emotional challenges. These issues can cause burnout and make it difficult for nurses to provide quality care.
Nursing self-care can help nurses maintain a healthy mental and physical state. This can help prevent burnout and improve patient-care outcomes.
In addition to promoting health, self-care can also improve social and spiritual well-being. There are many ways to practice self-care in nursing, including breathing, meditation, movement, sleep hygiene and nutrition.
Nurses should prioritize self-care and take steps to implement it into their daily routines. There are plenty of resources available to help nurses learn about self-care and how to practice it.