Patient advocacy is a fundamental part of the nursing practice. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program teaches students about nursing advocacy and why it is the responsibility of all nurses to keep patients safe. Once patients receive a diagnosis, they may struggle with comprehending treatments and determining how to pay for their healthcare. Nurses can guide patients and provide emotional support to help ease their anxiety and aid them in reaching a positive outcome.
What Is Nursing Advocacy?
Nursing advocacy is an action that nurses take to ethically stand up for patients and safeguard them against harm. In the American Nurses Association’s Provisions of the Code of Ethics for Nurses With Interpretive Statements, Provision 3 states that nurses should advocate for patients and protect their rights, health and safety.
Why Is Nursing Advocacy Important?
Patients depend on nursing advocacy for quality care. Nurses understand medical terminology and the way the healthcare system works so they can help patients navigate the healthcare process, while answering questions and advising them on a course of action. Additionally, patients may have preferences for their treatment based on their religious, cultural or ethnic backgrounds. Nurses can speak on behalf of patients to ensure their comfort around care decisions.
What Is a Nurse Advocate?
Patient advocacy was always part of the nursing practice. Gradually, patient advocacy has evolved into a specialty role within medical organizations and industries related to healthcare.
A nurse advocate is a liaison between patients and their physicians as well as other medical professionals.
What Is the Job of a Nurse Advocate?
Nurse advocates have clinical experience and are knowledgeable about medication, healthcare legislation, treatment options, billing, insurance and Medicare/Medicaid. Their job entails these responsibilities:
- Assess the needs of patients and their family members.
- Educate patients about their illness or medical condition.
- Inform patients about available treatments.
- Suggest tests or treatments preferred by patients.
- Address a patient’s concerns.
- Interact with patients without judgment or prejudice.
- Counsel patients without bias or coercion.
- Handle patient complaints by documenting, investigating and resolving the problem.
What Skills Do Nurse Advocates Need?
The skillset that nurse advocates must possess builds on their educational preparation and clinical expertise. Nurse advocates should be good at the following:
- Managing conflict.
- Being diplomatic.
- Maintaining a calm demeanor.
- Showing compassion and empathy.
- Working independently.
Where Do Nurse Advocates Work?
Nurse advocates can find employment in the following healthcare settings:
- Government agencies.
- Insurance companies.
- Long-term care facilities.
- Nonprofit organizations.
- Private practices.
How Much Does a Nurse Advocate Earn?
According to PayScale.com, the average wage for a nurse advocate is $29.22 per hour, as of October 1, 2018. Total pay ranges from $46,194 to $92,569 a year. Yearly salaries depend on geographical location and the type of healthcare organization or industry.
How Do You Become a Nurse Advocate?
A specific degree for a nurse advocate does not exist. Your path to working as a nurse advocate begins with completing a BSN. By gaining nursing experience and seeking additional preparation in social work, health insurance or research, you can acquire the necessary preparation to qualify for a position as a nurse advocate.
Patients who are sick or severely injured may not be able to think clearly about managing their health condition, treating a disease, forming a care plan or paying for healthcare. That is why there is a need for nurse advocates. Nurse advocates can also participate in creating legislation that promotes equitable and quality care for all patients. If you hold an associate degree, you can apply to an online RN to BSN program and complete it in as few as 13 months.
Learn more about La Salle University’s online RN to BSN program.