Nursing Advocate: 5 Ways to Be a Better Advocate for Patients

nursing advocateBy Jane Anderson

As health care systems continue to evolve, patients are relying more and more on guidance from nursing advocates. 

People who are unfamiliar with the term may wonder, “What is nursing advocacy?” and “What can it do for me?”

Advocacy as defined by Merriam-Webster is “the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.” Nursing advocacy goes one step further and designates the “cause” to be a patient and their rights. 

An interpretive statement on Provision 3 of the Code of Ethics for Nursing states it best: “The nurse promotes, advocates for, and protects the rights, health, and safety of the patient.”

5 Tips for Better Nursing Advocacy

Incorporate these five nursing advocate strategies into your daily routine to become a better advocate for your patients.

1. Communicate Effectively

Nursing advocates need excellent verbal, written and electronic communication skills. Hospitals are bustling, and your coworkers are pressured. If you have a concern, state it concisely, and stay on topic. 

The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing has a template for a 60-second speech designed to get your problem noticed.

2. Understand Nursing Advocate Laws and Regulations

You need to be familiar with state and federal laws along with your hospital’s policies and procedures. In your role as a nursing advocate, you may find yourself ignored or even harassed. 

How far are you willing to go for your patient’s rights? The Nursing Advocacy Association recommends all nurses understand the Safe Harbor provision within their state.

3. Maintain a Positive Relationship with your Health Care Team

If you’re known on the floor as the short-tempered, self-seeking busybody, it’ll be hard to get support as you fight for patient’s rights. 

Your relationship with associates affects the response your patient receives if problems arise. Keep your attitude cheerful, and learn how to deal with negative coworkers.




4. Focus on Practice Improvement

A nursing advocate should try to enhance a patient’s care experience. Hospital processes are constantly changing; your suggestions and creativity should revolve around helping your patients.

5. Be Available to Patients and their Families

Although documentation takes time, it’s still the bedside care that distinguishes a valuable nurse. Your relationship with patients and family members opens the door to frank discussions. 

This provides you with the opportunity to mediate any problems between the doctor’s plans and the patient’s goals.

A nurse is often the final link in the health chain of command. You’re the one on hand when a patient takes their medication, undergoes a procedure or experiences a change in their condition. 

It’s your responsibility to act for your patient as a nursing advocate.

© 2013 AMN Healthcare, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction and distribution of these materials is prohibited without the expressed written authorization of AMN Healthcare, Inc.