In 2020, a Gallup poll of adults in America rated nursing as the most honest and ethical profession for the 18th consecutive year. Nurses are trusted as having their patients’ best interests in mind, according to those patients and their families. Often having the most direct contact with patients, nurses are uniquely positioned to witness the efficacy of different techniques and policies firsthand.
Because nurses work so closely with patients, they may be called upon to educate or speak up for those in their care. Advocacy is a significant part of the trust nurses have fostered. It is an important aspect of any nurse’s job, and it can become a career in itself.
How Nursing Advocacy Works
Advocacy is part of the daily practice of working nurses. They can mediate between physicians and patients as treatment recommendations are sometimes at odds with patient concerns and beliefs. Their regular, direct contact with patients helps them understand these individuals, their cultural beliefs and potential barriers to successful treatment. Making these concerns known to other providers can improve patient compliance and outcomes, per Nurse Journal.
In regular practice, nurses can advocate for their patients within the healthcare organization. Witnessing the human consequences of certain policies gives nurses a unique vantage point. Nurses can push for policies that benefit patient health and treatment results, detailing specific instances in which current policies have impeded treatment. For example, cutting overtime for nurses could leave an organization short-staffed, resulting in unsafe practices and potential disaster for patients. They can also bring real-life patient concerns to the table from the wealth of knowledge they have gathered through their education and on the job.
Nurses are educators, helping patients understand processes and procedures so they can make informed decisions about their care. Some health conditions require tough decisions that impact patients’ future wellness, and nurses can advocate for these patients by explaining options and procedures. Oncology Nursing News stresses the importance of patients making informed choices, and nurses play a key role in that process.
Legislative and political advocacy in the arena of healthcare are very important, and nurses who lend their voices can shape the future of healthcare. Nurses can promote the importance of their profession and its impact on healthcare access and patient results. The American Nursing Association (ANA) encourages nurses to become community leaders and political advocates. This is a fantastic way to help make the changes that can significantly improve the healthcare landscape.
Expanding Your Advocacy Reach
If you enjoy the advocacy aspect of nursing, you may consider seeking a nurse advocate position with a healthcare organization. RegisteredNursing.org explains that nurse advocates in healthcare systems bridge the gap between patients’ concerns and providers’ treatment recommendations. Helping patients and families navigate resources, providers and insurance are all part of the nurse advocate’s job.
The minimum degree requirement for nurse advocates is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). There is no specific certification for this role, but nurse advocates would do well to avail themselves of any education that helps them improve patient care and support the nursing profession.
For those driven to promote nursing in communities and government, ANA offers resources to boost this branch of nurse advocacy. ANA actively represents nurses in government forums to help make their voices heard. Whether your urge is to support change by contacting government officials or to step into the spotlight and run for elected office, ANA can provide information to help you achieve your goals. Through its understanding of the political system, ANA can help you make the greatest impact with your desired level of participation. Become a member and take advantage of ANA’s Nurse Advocacy Toolkit.
American Nurses Advocacy Institute (ANAI) fosters the development of nurses as political leaders. Local, state and national government benefit from nurses’ insight on policies and practices that affect the health of the population. This program includes mentorship to nurture political competence, supplying nurses with the knowledge and understanding needed for this pursuit.
Nursing advocacy boosts the nursing profession and elevates patient care. The desire to help people heal is strong with nurse advocates in all positions. Your knowledge, talent and drive may steer you into a greater advocacy position. You can help bring about an improved future for healthcare and patients by becoming a nurse advocate.
Learn more about Eastern Illinois University’s online RN to BSN program.