Why Nurses Should Be Patient Advocates

Patients entrust their lives to nurses. While nurses have many responsibilities, they also must protect their patients from harm that is not related to their condition. Thus, nurses should be advocates for their patients. In a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree program, nurses are prepared with the proficiencies needed to safeguard their patients.

What Is a Patient Advocate?

All nurses are patient advocates regardless of their field of nursing. Patient advocacy consists of the actions nurses take to uphold the rights of those in their care. Most importantly, nurses don’t tell patients what to do. Instead, they provide patients with information to help them make educated decisions about their healthcare. Nurses can advocate for patients by doing the following:

  • Act as a liaison between patients and other members of the healthcare team.
  • Defend patients when their right to quality care is disregarded.
  • Speak on behalf of patients who are too timid to ask questions or voice their concerns.
  • Support patients in determining the best treatment options.
  • Participate in revising or forming policy that improves patient care.

Why Do Patients Need Advocates?

Patients need advocates because navigating the healthcare system is complicated. In addition, sick or injured patients may be too weak or incapacitated to articulate what they want or need. So, nurses may have to look out for their patients’ best interests by collaborating with family members.

What Skills Do Nurses Need to be Good Advocates?

Nurses need strong advocacy skills so they can help their patients. They may have to explain tests and procedures, translate medical jargon, or deal with ethical issues. Sometimes conflicts arise. Patients, family members and physicians may not agree on a course of action. At these times, nurses may need to facilitate a discussion among all parties to ensure that the patient’s wishes are met. To advocate for patients, nurses should possess these skills:

  • Communication — Demonstrate tact and honesty.
  • Collaboration — Work well with others while sharing their perspective.
  • Critical thinking — Make a clear, rational connection between ideas.
  • Problem-solving — Take a systematic and logical approach to finding a solution.

How Does an RN to BSN Program Prepare Nurses for Advocacy?

An online RN to BSN program prepares nurses for all aspects of the nursing practice. Through real-world applications, students are introduced to the principles and concepts of nursing theories, processes and practice roles. Students examine ethics in nursing and how to arrive at intelligent, impartial and moral decisions. Students also learn about the fundamentals of leadership and management in a variety of healthcare settings.

Advocacy is an essential part of nursing. Nurses are ideal patient advocates because they interact with patients daily. They know when patients are frustrated and confused about their care plan. Patients rely on nurses to not only provide care but also to counsel and educate them about their healthcare choices. With compassion and honesty, nurses are in position to guide patients to make well-informed judgements about the most effective method for achieving a positive outcome.

Learn more about the USC Aiken online RN to BSN program.


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