The patient advocate

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One of the key roles of nursing includes being the patient advocate. Standing up for your patient’s rights, and ensuring that the care delivered is the best care that can be given to ensure patient safety and wellbeing. We read about it in every class, but there isn’t really a class that teachers you how to become a patient advocate.  What do you have to do to be the voice of your patient, and how do you make that voice heard?

Unfortunately, we’ve been dealing with some medical-type issues at home, and while it’s nothing too serious, it still is enough to show your that dark and scary side of the unknown. It’s a window into the world of being a patient, of being the patient’s family, and it really shows you how vulnerable you are in this place. You are at their mercy, waiting for results, waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for your insurance, waiting for surgery, whatever it is, remember, that when you’re a patient, you’re constantly told to wait, and your patience starts to run out when you aren’t getting the answers you need.

What I’ve learned from it all this week is that as an advocate, you have to work to make sure things go smoothly. It means double checking to see if results have come in, checking to see what needs to be faxed, calling the insurance company to see what the hold-up is for the auth, and then when you’ve found out what the holdup is, you get that done. Make sure that you’ve done everything in your capable hands to make sure the complicated process that can be western medicine is a little less complicated for your patients.

You can be an advocate in other ways, Whether it’s noticing that a medication is not taking affect, and collaborating with the MD to get something else that might work. You might be dealing with a chronic illness patient with an unknown diagnosis – do what you can to find answers. Patients don’t have the resources that we do to get answers, to find out what’s going on, or to know what needs to get done. And as nurses, we don’t know our patient’s concerns, fears, and history. It’s not until we sit down and nurse and patient, and listen, that we can truly be an advocate for them; that we can be their voice when they aren’t being heard.

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