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Five Ways That Nurses Can Be Healthcare Advocates

According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), “Advocacy is a pillar of nursing. Nurses instinctively advocate for their patients, in their workplaces, and in their communities; but legislative and political advocacy is no less important to advancing the profession and patient care” (ANA, n.d.). Being a vocal advocate allows nurses to emphasize the essential role they play in providing high-quality, affordable care and serves to champion their profession as well as advance how nurses are perceived as part of the healthcare system. The courage and responsibility for advocacy among nurses is one of the reasons that nursing has been voted the most trusted profession in Gallup’s annual honesty and ethics survey for 16 years running (ANA, n.d.).

How Can a Nurse Be an Advocate?

As demographic trends and changing laws transform the practice of healthcare, nurses continue to be the agents for implementing current healthcare policies while they go about the daily process of providing care to patients. In doing so, many nurses are given an ideal vantage point for understanding the healthcare industry. Nurses need to feel free to express their feelings and opinions about care, whether positive or negative. Here are some ways nurses can advocate for patients, themselves, the nursing profession, and healthcare as a whole:

  • Champion the underserved – Nurses may speak up on behalf of people who lose access to care, struggle to get the medical care they need, or get lost in an overly complicated healthcare system.
  • Create a better work environment – Nurses can advocate for a better workplace by making sure everyone is treated fairly.
  • Act from within the healthcare system to effect change – Healthcare administrators, doctors, and even elected representatives and politicians may not be aware of significant, detrimental issues unless nurses are willing to bring the problems to their attention.
  • Improve access to care – Speak publicly about the negative impact on patient care of budget restrictions, changes to the Affordable Care Act, and other policy decisions.
  • Support the nursing profession – Combat unfair working conditions and support situations where nurses could feel pressured to overwork themselves or rush through critical healthcare procedures.

There are multiple avenues for a nurse to be an advocate. One option is to be politically active, contacting legislators at all levels about important issues that merit an expert healthcare industry viewpoint or even running for office. For many nurses, simply talking to a supervisor about patient concerns, posting a personal story on social media, or sharing their opinions with colleagues is a way to affirm the nursing profession. All of healthcare benefits when nurses communicate freely about what’s going on and can be improved in the industry.

NurseGrid, a HealthStream partner committed to transforming healthcare for the better, recently posted How Nurses Can Advance Their Profession and Patient Care Through Advocacy. They suggest “Advocacy has long gone hand-in-hand with the nursing profession… If you’re passionate about what you do and believe in fighting for your profession and your patients, learn more about how you can get involved in nursing advocacy.” The post discusses why advocacy is a natural activity for nurses, what can be achieved by doing so, and importantly, how to go about it.”

References
“Advocacy,” American Nurses Association (ANA), retrieved at https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/advocacy/.

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