The Importance of Advocacy in Nursing

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Advocacy in nursing is critical to providing quality patient care. Nurses can advocate for their patients in many ways, from patient education to providing necessary resources. Advocating for patients and better working conditions benefits all involved: patients, nurses, and healthcare organizations.

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Registered nurses assume many roles throughout their day to ensure patients receive quality and dignified care. They must pivot between these roles and be prepared to support their patients at a moment’s notice as educators, compassionate care providers, and healthcare collaborators; however, the roles of a nurse don’t stop there.

One of nursing’s most vital roles is patient advocacy. Advocacy ensures a patient’s wants and needs are respected and accounted for throughout their treatment plans. Nurses who practice advocating for patients help foster trust between their patients and the healthcare team, creating a more productive relationship to yield improved patient outcomes.

Nurses acquire advocacy skills during nursing school. At Concordia University Texas, our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track prepares students to become competent nurses by instilling the knowledge and skills to advocate for patients effectively and provide dignified patient care.

Advocacy in nursing is crucial to the functioning of healthcare teams and organizations. Effective nurse advocates greatly benefit patients, nurses, and healthcare organizations. Below is an exploration of patient advocacy, highlighting its importance and many benefits.

What is Patient Advocacy in Nursing?

Patient Advocacy is foundational to nursing practice, which is why it’s codified in the American Nursing Association’s Nursing Code of Ethics. As a registered nurse, you must provide dignified patient care and act as the patient’s voice when appropriate, ensuring care plans, policies, and regulations prioritize patient safety and dignity.

Patient advocacy nursing recognizes the importance of the patient’s needs and wishes, from religious and cultural beliefs to anxieties about procedures and quality of life. However, advocating for patients has a wide range of applications. There are many ways a nurse can advocate for patients.

Nurses can arrange for a translator for patients who don’t speak English or provide patient resources, such as information on rehabilitation facilities and transportation. Nurses may also need to explain and educate patients and their families on changes in medications and treatments. If patients are uncomfortable with their treatment plans, nurses must relay this information to physicians and team members.

Nurses are considered one of the most trusted professions in the U.S. and consistently rank number one in Gallup’s Honesty and Ethics poll. This is mainly due to nurses advocating for their patients and keeping their best interests at heart.

nurse standing in hospital smiling

Advocacy isn’t the only quality needed to become a leader in healthcare. Read more to learn about the top leadership qualities in nursing.

Nurse Advocate Duties and Responsibilities

Patients undergo a great deal of stress and uncertainty, which can be mitigated by advocacy. When patients feel heard and understood, they’re more willing to trust their nurses and healthcare team.

Nurses advocate for their patients in several ways. Below are a few examples of how nurses can advocate for their patients.

Educate Patients

Many patients have limited healthcare knowledge, so it’s essential for nurses to take the time to explain procedures, treatment plans, and medications to their patients. This can help alleviate anxiety and make patients more receptive to care.

Patient education helps empower patients to voice their concerns and ask questions when discussing treatment plans with their care team. Even when patients may be uncomfortable or nervous to express their concerns, they will feel empowered knowing their nurses can act as their voice and interpreter.

nursing students practicing clinical skills

Protect Patient Rights and Safety

Patients have the right to safe and dignified care. A significant part of a nurse advocate’s role is safeguarding these rights and ensuring patient care aligns with the patient’s cultural and religious beliefs. Registered nurses must consider these beliefs and rights when communicating with the patient’s family, care team, and organizations.

Patients have a fundamental right to safety. Registered nurses must ensure that all procedures, medications, and other aspects of the treatment plan prioritize patient safety. Nurses should also advocate for safe nurse-to-patient ratios and working conditions to ensure patients continue to receive safe care.

Advocate for Improved Working Conditions

The quality of patient care is directly related to safe working conditions. Overworked nurses can suffer from burnout, leading to medical errors. Nurses must advocate for themselves and work with the administration to create a safe working environment, provide access to resources, and develop processes that protect nurses and their patients.

Benefits of Advocating for Patients

Advocating for patients benefits everyone involved, including the patient, nurse, and organization. Taking the time to develop advocacy skills is vital to the healthcare system.

Patient Benefits

Patients benefit greatly from nurse advocates. When met with a sympathetic ear and active listening, patients are more willing to trust their nurses and, by extension, their healthcare team. Relaying information, such as the patient’s concerns and medical history, to physicians and the care team helps safeguard them from medical errors and formulate an effective treatment plan that meets their needs.

Advocacy also empowers patients. Educating patients on medications and procedures and providing resources can give them the confidence to make healthcare decisions. Ultimately, advocating for patients helps ensure they don’t fall through the cracks of the healthcare system while receiving quality, dignified care.

Nurse Benefits

Concordia Texas nursing student working with sim manikin

Advocacy also benefits nurses. Nurses, as patient advocates, build trusting bonds with their patients, making nurses more effective. However, it is equally essential for nurses to advocate for themselves and better working conditions.

Addressing staffing issues, unfair hours, and increasing access to resources can help create a work environment that supports nurses and allows them to focus on their patients. While nurses need to advocate for themselves, the administration must be willing to address any issues. When both sides can work together, healthcare staff and patients benefit.

Organization Benefits

Organizations will also benefit by providing room for advocacy. Improved working conditions and a safe environment help retain talented staff and improve patient outcomes. Supporting advocacy also helps send an important message to the facility’s staff and patients: they care about and value their patients. Patients who feel supported and receive quality care are more likely to return.

Are you ready to earn your BSN? Read more to learn what to expect in nursing school.

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Your Nursing Journey Begins at Concordia University Texas

Developing advocacy skills starts during your nursing education. Concordia University Texas has a long, respected history of training talented and competent nurses to become healthcare leaders.

As Concordia Texas ABSN alumni Tiwa Oladipupo said, “I saw that [the ABSN track] holds a lot of weight in producing nurses that are compassionate. Nurses that are not only knowledgeable but they are able to also connect with their patient on a spiritual level. And I think that's such an important part of nursing, not only being able to be knowledgeable in the medicine, but also being able to just connect with a person human to human.”

Through our ABSN track, you will participate in online coursework, hands-on nursing simulation labs, and clinical rotations, cultivating the advocacy and nursing skills needed for a fulfilling career. If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or a minimum of 60 college credits from an accredited institution, you may be eligible for the ABSN track.

Our team of admissions counselors is ready to answer your questions and support you throughout the admission process. Contact us today to learn more about the ABSN track and how it can launch your nursing career.