Advocacy is one of the pillars of the nursing profession. An important role for nursing professionals is to be an advocate for their patients to reach their healthcare goals. Advocating is about standing up for the rights of your patients and firmly defending them even if you personally may not agree. Nurses can be a patient advocate by helping to make an informed decision. Every individual has the right to make their health care decision about their own health. Especially when the patient is alert and competent, the nurses should take the patient’s decision seriously. Nurses must make the patient their priority, for example, a terminally ill patient may decline extensive treatment and may only wish for comfort care even though the family might seek extensive treatment. In this situation, the nurse must advocate the patient’s wishes.
Nurses can also advocate for their patients by being a resource person. I would like to share an example of a prescription drug cost. I had a patient diagnosed with severe neuropathy and the physician had prescribed him Lyrica which is a very effective medication to treat neuropathic pain. Unfortunately, the patient was uninsured, and the drug was very expensive, so the patient was unable to afford the medication. I did extensive research and found out about a program called “Pfizer patient assistance program” that provides medication (Lyrica) to the uninsured patients with no cost for a certain period. I then explained all this information to the patient and helped him fill the application form. Finally, the patient received his medication and took for 3 months. One day, when I was working on the floor, the patient called me and said his pain was well controlled and now he was able to get back to his work. I was so happy to hear that he was getting better and back to his normal job. If he wouldn’t have received this medication he would have been in pain every day and even get depressed. This might have resulted in multiple visits to the hospital and or healthcare facility. As nurses, we have the responsibility to stand up for what is right for our patients.
Tricia Hussung (2016) Critical Care: The Role of Nurses as Patient Advocates retrieved from https://online.alvernia.edu/nurses-as-patient-advocates/