Role Of Rn As A Patient Advocate

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Role of RN as a Patient Advocate

Role of RN as a Patient Advocate


Nursing is a challenging, rewarding and exciting career. The nurse's role is not limited to changing bandages, giving needles and offering support, as the past has indicated. The role of the modern nurse is one of advocate, caregiver, teacher, researcher, counselor, and case manager. The caregiver role includes those activities that assist the client physically and psychologically while preserving the client's dignity. (Schroeter 2000) In order for a nurse to be an effective caregiver, the patient must be treated as whole. Patient advocacy is another role that the modern nurse assumes when providing quality care. Advocacy is defined as the active support of an important cause, supporting others to act for themselves or speaking on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. Registered Nurses (RN) have a complex role in advocating for patients. The definition of advocacy varies according to who is providing the definition and the health care setting in which she acts. Many ethical, professional and personal issues are involved that require appropriate education, experience and judgment. The role of RN as patient advocate is a passion of mine; as is the need for a safe staffing law in all 50 states (minimum RN-to-patient ratios), as has been enacted in California. I hope to make this a reality in Oregon as well, by getting the word out at the state legislature level and pushing for a similar bill. I hope nurses in other states are as passionate about the nurse advocate role and will work to make safe staffing laws a reality in all states.

Nursing Education

According to John Banja, Ph.D., in a paper he presented to the Southern Council on Collegiate Education for Nursing in 1991, nurse educators are not always sure what or how to teach nurses in training to advocate for their patients. Nurse training includes advocacy issues, but the guidance offered in teaching programs is not uniform, and the guidance provided can never cover every contingency. (Schroeter 2002)Sometimes, nurses in training get the advice to learn by example--to watch someone else and do what she does. However, it's not always true that another nurse is doing the right thing. Situations arise that can lead a nurse to make mistakes and set a poor example. Advocacy is a contemporary nursing issue comprising three essential attributes, respect for patient value, education of patients, and respect for patients' individuality. During the perioperative period there are several events that will necessitate the nurse acting on behalf of the patient because his/her altered state of consciousness during the procedure. Events such as: lack of respect for modesty and dignity during the procedure, inadequate or inaccurate consents for surgery, incompetent care providers and surgeons, compliance with do-not-resuscitate orders during the operative period(Rogers 2000). The nurses' role as advocate is to facilitate, encourage or to enable patients to be involved in all aspects of their healthcare even when unable to do ...
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