What is Nursing Advocacy?

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What is nursing advocacy? Nursing advocacy is the act of ensuring patients are safe, cared for and heard. Advocacy is an essential aspect of nursing and can lead to improved patient-focused policies and better working conditions for nurses. By incorporating advocacy into your nursing practice, you can improve patient relationships.

nurse holding patient's hand

Nurses assume many roles throughout their careers, including nurse advocate. But what is nursing advocacy, and why is it important to nursing? Nursing advocacy protects patients’ rights, health and safety in a healthcare setting, ensuring that patients are heard, understood and receive dignified care. While nurses can receive advocacy training and specialize in patient advocacy, all nurses should serve as patient advocates in some way.

Felician University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program provides students with a comprehensive education and prepares them to become compassionate and competent registered nurses (RNs) ready to advocate for their patients. Through either the hybrid or on-ground program, you can earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in 16 to 18 months and be ready to obtain your license to practice as an RN.

Below is an exploration of why nursing advocacy is so important to nursing and its many benefits.

Why is Advocacy Important in Nursing?

Patients needing medical care can feel overwhelmed by it all. The healthcare system can be confusing, scary and lonely, which is why nursing advocacy is important. Nurse advocates listen to patients’ concerns and act as a liaison between patients and the healthcare team.

Whether they specialize in patient advocacy or incorporate advocacy into their practice, nurse advocates can lead to better patient outcomes. Consider the following examples of why nursing advocacy is important:

Protect and Safeguard Patients

Advocacy in nursing is important because it promotes safety within a healthcare facility and after discharge by putting the patient’s interests first. To protect patients, nurses must clearly communicate with them and their caregivers about the care plan, ensuring everyone understands what is required. Nurse advocates must also communicate with social workers and case managers to make proper arrangements for home healthcare when necessary.

school nurse sitting with child patient

However, protection does not stop with a patient’s safety. Advocacy in nursing extends to protecting the patient’s rights. It is vital for nurses to understand a patient’s personal wishes and convey these to family members, the healthcare team and insurance companies.

This is another example of nurses acting as the liaison between the patient and healthcare staff and why advocacy in nursing is so important. All the progress made in a healthcare facility can be undone if the patient’s needs are not met.

Provide Patients with Access to Resources

Nurse advocacy can bridge the gap between in-hospital and at-home care, an important transition in a patient’s recovery. Patients may be unaware of available resources, so by helping patients access them, nurses can relieve a great deal of stress and set patients on a path to recovery. Resources vary from transportation and financial assistance to support networks.

Specialized nurse advocates may have more responsibilities, such as creating a plan that meets the patient and caregiver’s needs and recommending treatments. However, registered nurses can still recommend resources to help patients recover.

These resources are instrumental to patient recovery and can set patients up for long-term success. It is crucial that nurses advocate for their patients and make them aware of their options.

Act as the Patient’s Voice

Advocacy in nursing ensures that the patient’s voice is heard. This is an essential aspect of a nurse patient advocate’s role. Nursing advocacy can empower the most vulnerable patients to ask questions and voice their concerns to their healthcare team.

Nurses can also act as interpreters for patients, explaining medical terminology and helping them understand their condition and treatment plans. As a nurse, you can work to build your patient’s trust and help guide them through difficult times. When patients feel intimidated or overwhelmed, nurses can step in and relay questions on their behalf.

Felician nursing student using a stethoscope

There are many other skills nurses should have in addition to advocacy. Read more to learn the top soft skills in nursing.

The Benefits of Nursing Advocacy

Now that you can answer the question “What is advocacy in nursing?” let’s explore its many benefits. Nursing advocacy benefits both nurses and patients. Whether you specialize in nurse patient advocacy or incorporate advocacy into your practice, the positive impact can go a long way.

Advocacy in nursing supports vulnerable patients who could otherwise be overlooked or disregarded. Patients benefit from nurses who advocate for them in the following ways:

  • Patients from underrepresented or underserved backgrounds will be heard. Nurse advocates can arrange an interpreter for patients who do not speak English and ensure patients do not get lost in the healthcare system.
  • Patients can make informed decisions regarding their healthcare when nurse advocates take the time to educate them on their condition and options.
  • Patients can feel empowered in their recovery when nurses advocate for them throughout their treatment plan.

Nurses will also benefit from incorporating advocacy into their nursing practice. Below are a few examples of the nurse advocacy benefits:

  • Nurses promoting patient safety lead to high work environment standards and improved regulations. Patient-centered policies also reduce the risk of patient-harm.
  • Nurses can advocate for better working conditions. Advocating for each other increases comradery among staff and helps fight against burnout and unfair policies.
  • A nursing staff that advocates for their patients improves patient retention because patients will feel seen, heard and cared for.
Felician using stethoscope on sim manikin

Advocacy in nursing is essential to providing dignified and compassionate patient care. By advocating for your patients, you create a better work environment that supports both patients and nurses.

How to Become a Nurse Patient Advocate

If you wish to specialize in nurse patient advocacy, you can do so by becoming a registered nurse first. There is no official path toward becoming a nurse advocate; however, many people start by earning their BSN, gaining clinical experience, and then pursuing an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing. Pursuing the nursing route gives you valuable insight into the nurse-patient relationship and healthcare facility operations.

While an advanced degree is not necessary, it will deepen your knowledge of nursing, advocacy and administration. It also opens career options such as family nurse practitioner, nurse educator and nurse administrator.

You could also pursue certification, such as the Patient Advocate Certification Board’s (PACB) Patient and Healthcare Advocacy Credential, to become a Board-Certified Patient Advocate. This certification signifies that you are prepared to adhere to the PACB’s standards for patient advocacy and can advance your career.

nurses wearing face masks sitting in classroom

Want to know more about earning an advanced nursing degree? Read more to learn what to expect and the opportunities an advanced degree leads to.

Foster Nursing Advocacy Skills with Felician University

Now that you are no longer asking, “What is nursing advocacy?” you can embark on the path toward becoming a registered nurse who advocates for your patients.

Through Felician University’s ABSN, you learn the foundational skills for a nursing career and advocacy skills, too. Whether you wish to specialize in nurse patient advocacy or become a registered nurse who can advocate for your patients, Felician University can set you on the path.

Felician’s hybrid and on-ground ABSN provides coursework, simulation labs and clinical rotations that teach you the hard and soft skills needed for a nursing career. If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or a minimum of 60 non-nursing credits, reach out today to take the first steps toward earning a BSN in as few as 16 to 18 months.