This is the first in a 3-part series about nurses as advocates within healthcare.
Many nurses think of advocacy as the most important role we play in patient care. We need to remember that to best serve patients, we must have our own house in order. That house includes the other healthcare professionals with whom we and our patients interact, as well as the organizations providing those services and the policies and legislation that influence them.
How can oncology nurses advocate for patients every day? Here are some examples.
While we function as advocates for patients, many of the tasks we do become automatic and we can forget they are really about advocacy. When we are short-staffed or tired, our ability to advocate becomes compromised.
Advocacy for patients doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Every patient’s care is affected by the environment in which their care is provided, and the individuals providing that care. This means nurses need to have the time to be able to do these things and to become aware of patient needs, communicate, and follow through.
The nurse needs to come to work not exhausted or burned out. A safe patient load is necessary, as well as support and backup from other staff in the facility. Administrators must understand our role as advocates for patients, so they can provide adequate staffing levels and an environment that allows us to fully care for our patients. When the administration does not understand, it is part of our advocacy duty to inform them.
In my next post I will explore how nurses also play important roles as advocates for their own profession, and within the greater healthcare space where we exist, intertwined with physicians and other healthcare professionals who ultimately serve patients.
As Nurses, We Must Advocate for Ourselves