At present, nurses are equal participants in the process of treatment together with physicians and other health professionals. Moreover, they fulfill some vital functions to facilitate health care and to improve its outcomes. Activist’s and advocate’s roles are crucial for contemporary nurses. They have opportunities to influence the quality of healthcare and protect the interests of the patient.
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Since healthcare as a system is changing quickly, nurses should be able to develop as well to meet these changes. The knowledge of healthcare policies and their application is not enough. A professional nurse is expected to be an active participant of health policies formulation (Arabi, Rafii, Cheraghi, & Ghiyasvandian, 2014). Nursing activists have the unique experience which together with their advocacy skills can be useful for health policies formulation. These policies mainly concern “patients, families, themselves, and the whole health care system” (Arabi et al., 2014, par.7).
Nursing activists’ functions are often limited to the political activity. However, nurses can implement their leadership and activity intentions in spheres of community health, family health, protecting the health of vulnerable populations, etc. (Allender, Rector, & Warner, 2014). These spheres can be united in work of nursing activists. Nurses are the people who directly cooperate with patients and know their peculiar needs. Nurses are aware of healthcare system functioning from inside. Consequently, they can have sound suggestions for the improvement of healthcare delivery and the increase of its quality. Thus, their task is to express their ideas, first at the local level, and later on state or federal.
Case Studies: Babara Howe and Terri Schiavo
The cases of Barbara Howe and Terri Schiavo are the examples of powerlessness of healthcare system in front of the legal processes. In the first case, a daughter insisted on keeping alive her 79-year-old paralyzed mother. The wish of the old woman was to live as long as she can recognize her family. However, the daughter, who was mother’s healthcare proxy, demanded the continuation of aggressive treatment despite the fact that her mother’s condition was not improving. She went to the courts at the local level to make healthcare provider act the way she wanted. As a nurse advocate, I consider that in this case the interests of a patient were not respected. The daughter was probably guided by some personal motives. However, they contradicted the wish of a patient. I believe that any actions that do not improve the patient’s condition should not be taken.
The second case is even more complicated since it went to federal and supreme courts. A 25-year-old woman was in coma after a full cardiac arrest. After a month, coma developed into a persistent vegetative state. The issue was whether a patient had to be fed through tubes since she could not swallow herself. The legal answer is that a patient can refuse treatment if it does not result in positive dynamics. I suppose that in cases like this one the decisions should be prompted by physicians and nurses. If there is a possibility that a patient overcomes a complicated condition and the positive dynamics is observed, the treatment should be continued. Anyway, the interests of a patient should be a primary concern.
On the whole, nursing activists can have a positive impact on the medicine today. Their working experience can produce ideas for the improvement of the healthcare system. Thus, they can be encouraged to express suggestions for the healthcare reform which can be implemented for the patients’ benefit.
Allender, J.A., Rector, C., & Warner, K.D. (2014). Community and public health nursing: Promoting the public health. 8th ed. Tokyo, CN: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
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Arabi, A., Rafii, F., Cheraghi, M.A., & Ghiyasvandian, S. (2014). Nurses’ policy influence: A concept analysis. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, 19(3), 315-322.