Patient advocacy is a significant component of nursing practice, as nurses are the part of the medical workforce that spends the most time in direct contact with people undergoing treatment. As such, it is their responsibility to ensure that the patients are treated in a manner that maximizes their well-being. Nurses work to accomplish this by excelling in their profession and providing a high standard of care, but they should also ensure that the person benefits from his or her interaction with the institution. To that end, nurses provide a voice and a source of information to patients in their interactions with clinics and policymakers.
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Patient Advocacy Definition
Patient advocacy is a broad concept, but as its name implies, it concerns the representation of the interests of the people who undergo treatment. David, Joy, Ominyi, and Simon (2015) note that a popular definition contains three components: acting on the patient’s behalf, safeguarding him or her, and promoting social justice in healthcare. The nurse should guarantee that the patient’s rights are observed, especially when he or she lacks decision-making capacity.
The worker should also help those in his or her care to make informed and optimal decisions and work to further their interests. Lastly, nurses can notice inequalities in treatment, and patient advocacy demands that they address such cases.
My plans for patient advocacy activities involve working to further their interest on every level. I will work with individual patients, educate them and their carers, help them identify the least expensive options that would address their concerns, and suggest organizations that can help with costs if necessary. I will also take their side in interactions with other medical professionals and institutions, focusing on the protection of their human rights and their privacy.
Lastly, I will show my support of policy proposals that benefit patients by interacting with political figures such as the Congress representative of my constituency. When I become an experienced practitioner, I plan on trying to create new proposals, primarily focusing on the American Cancer Association due to the costs and dangers of cancer treatment.
Patient Advocacy and Safe Practice
Patient advocacy can help promote aspects of safe practice, particularly accountability. A patient that receives relevant information about the treatments he or she can choose is likely to make a choice that suits his or her needs best. Furthermore, the protection of patients who do not possess decision-making capacities ensures that proper answerability is achieved. There are also other aspects, such as an improved relationship between the patients and the medical system. Warner, Simunich, Warner, and Dado (2017) suggest that systems where the patient participates in the creation of his or her subjective medical history, can lead to improved outcomes. Overall, the application of patient advocacy does not endanger the safety and has considerable ability to improve it.
Since 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which is colloquially known as Obamacare, has governed American healthcare. The current President of the United States, Donald Trump, belongs to the Republican party and has often expressed his disapproval of the Democrat policy. So far, attempts to repeal the PPACA have been unsuccessful due to the lack of a viable alternative proposal, but the situation may change in the future. As such, it is essential to consider how patient advocacy will change in the case of the introduction of a new policy. However, other changes are also occurring in the healthcare system, and their influence requires inspection and evaluation, as well.
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The repeal of the PPACA is likely to lead to a reduction in the numbers of people who are covered by the Medicaid program, leading to an increase in medical costs. As such, I would have to work with the patients more, helping them find programs or medical facilities that would offer the required services at lower prices. I would also try to convince the institution where I work to reduce costs, as it would serve the patients’ interest while increasing the facility’s attractiveness. I would also try to promote policies that help people save money on medical costs on the state and federal levels.
With regards to other changes and advancements to the patient advocacy role, nurses should continue developing it in the future. Ronnebaum and Schmer (2015) raise issues such as cultural awareness and inadequate patient evaluation mechanisms. Many people remain unaware of the concept and may refuse to believe that the nurse is on their side rather than that of the institution. It is especially important that the nurse protects the patient’s interest without infringing on his or her autonomy. The advocate should ensure that the patient has full access to information necessary to make the decision without forcing a specific view on him or her.
Cultural awareness is a noteworthy topic in the United States due to the nation’s high diversity, with people from many different races and ethnicities gathering on its territory. Ronnebaum and Schmer (2015) note that many of such patients are medically illiterate, come from disadvantaged backgrounds and distrust the medical system. Understanding their culture is essential to establish trust, which is required for a successful advocate relationship.
As such, nurses should research the different ethnicities that reside in their region and generally improve their cultural awareness. An advocate that is competent in such matters is considerably more likely to succeed in the promotion of social justice for minority patients.
Lastly, nurses should work to eliminate the existing barriers to advocacy, particularly those that remain from the times before the profession’s development. Oliveira and Tariman (2017) identify issues such as administration, nursing role, institutions, physician-nurse power imbalances, and personal concerns. An increased number of nurses is required, and they should be trained in advocacy. Nursing leaders should emerge and negotiate with management for increased staffing and resources. They should ensure that nurses have more power and can work with physicians on an equal footing. Lastly, nurses should perform self-introspection, potentially aided by instruments, to identify whether they are suitable for the patient advocacy role.
Patient advocacy is an essential concept in modern nursing, as it enables a beneficial relationship between people and the healthcare system. It includes acting with the patient’s interests in mind, safeguarding him or her, and promoting social justice. The approach can assist the safe practice by improving accountability and potentially leading to better outcomes. With potential future changes in mind, nurses should concentrate on finding ways to provide patients with affordable care. They should also spread awareness of their activities, particularly among minorities, and undergo cultural awareness training. Lastly, nurses should continue overcoming existing barriers, and the leadership role is essential for the purpose.
David, A. A., Joy, C. A., Ominyi, J. N., & Simon, N. O. (2015). Concept analysis of patients’ advocacy: The nursing perspective. International Journal of Nursing, 5(3), 1-4.
Oliveira, C., & Tariman, J. D. (2017). Barriers to the patient advocacy role: An integrative review of the literature. Journal of Nursing Practice Applications & Reviews of Research, 7(2), 7-12.
Ronnebaum, E. D., & Schmer, C. (2015). Patient advocacy and the Affordable Care Act: The growing need for nurses to be culturally aware. Open Journal of Nursing, 5, 237-245.
Warner, M. J., Simunich, T. J., Warner, M. K., & Dado, J. (2017). Use of patient-authored prehistory to improve patient experiences and accommodate federal law. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 117(2), 78-84.