One of the advanced responsibilities incorporated into the roles of nurses is patient advocacy. It enables the nurse to provide adequate care to patients. Although it is a modern approach to the profession, its roots can be traced to the works of Florence Nightingale and her sensitization of the interaction between patients and their environment. Most patients do not have a medical background and may face challenges making health-related decisions by themselves. Advocacy entails defending patients’ rights, representing them in decision-making processes, and supporting their decisions.
Importance of Advocacy
Advocacy allows patients to be involved in their healthcare processes. It also relieves stress that might be associated with the patients’ perception of their health condition and ensures that they understand the severity of their conditions. It alleviates the suffering experienced by patients, especially psychological or emotional grief that might be related to the cause of their illnesses. Patient advocacy also ensures patients’ beliefs, values, and concerns are considered during the treatment process (Jillian 48). This promotes the quality of care offered to patients and their trust towards their nurses and physicians.
Roles of Nurses in Advocacy
The role of nurses in patient advocacy entails representing the patient and working as the bridge between the patient and the other healthcare providers. It also entails defending the rights of the patients by ensuring that other nurses and healthcare professionals do not perform procedures not approved by the patient. Nurses are required to defend the universal rights of their patients. They also work towards protecting their interests (Jillian 48; Davoodvand, Abbaszadeh, and Ahmadi). In cases whereby a patient might have a higher likelihood of recovering if he or she receives an expensive treatment procedure, nurses play the role of informing the patient about the available procedures.
The role of nurses as patients’ advocates also entails educating them about their health conditions and answering any questions they might have regarding the pathophysiology of the diseases and their treatment procedure. Aside from that, nurses also offer empathy to their patients. They are also required to respect the decision made by the patient about the procedure and communicate the same to other healthcare professionals working with the patient (Davoodvand, Abbaszadeh, and Ahmadi). As such, nurses serve as the voice of the vulnerable who do not have the power to communicate their needs to the healthcare professionals treating them.
I once worked with a patient who had been diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes. He was obese and did not participate in physical activity. He consumed junk foods and worked in his home office throughout the week. My advocacy role in dealing with this patient entailed educating him about the risks of obesity on cardiovascular diseases, pathophysiology of hypertension and diabetes, and the role of diet and physical exercise in health promotion. His initial assumptions about diabetes and hypertension were focused on heredity. However, his parents did not have diabetes or hypertension. His dietary practices and lifestyle contributed to his illness.
Through the advocacy offered to the patient, he understood the relationship between obesity and other diseases. He also comprehended the role of proper diet and physical activity in managing his condition. By advising him to work out at least 30 minutes each day, he reduced a considerable amount of weight. Advising him to adhere to the diabetic and hypertensive drugs improve his management of these conditions. Had the patient not been offered an advocate, he might have continued eating junk foods and working at his home instead of exercising and eating healthy meals. He would still be struggling to control his blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Advocacy was key in this patient’s treatment.
Davoodvand, Shirmohammad, Abbas Abbaszadeh, and Fazlollah Ahmadi. “Patient Advocacy from the Clinical Nurses’ Viewpoint: A Qualitative Study.” Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine (2016): 9:5. Accessed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4958925/.
Jillian, Maine. “The Importance of Patient Advocacy.” Nursing Critical Care (2015): 10(4), 48. Accessed https://journals.lww.com/nursingcriticalcare/Citation/2015/07000/The_importance_of_patient_advocacy.9.aspx.