In your nursing career, you’ll want to advocate for your patients and your profession.

Health visitor and a senior womanBeing a nurse is about more than helping heal patients. It’s about being an advocate for those patients and speaking up for their safety, wishes, and cultural needs. Of all the skills of a nurse, the skill of advocacy is one of the most vital. It’s also one of the most difficult to develop.

Unlike the procedures used to treat most ailments, advocacy can vary a lot from patient to patient. To provide good advocacy, you have to be able to understand each patient’s individual needs and stay vigilant during their treatment. And you have to be willing to advocate for the nursing profession as well, so that nurses as a whole receive the respect and professional protections needed to successfully speak up.

If you want to be a successful advocate during your career in nursing, you should:

Keep Yourself Informed

When you treat a patient, you should make yourself aware of the patient’s entire plan of care, past medical history, and any cultural beliefs or preferences that might affect how the patient perceives the quality and appropriateness of the care they receive. You also need to stay up on current nursing knowledge and best practices. By keeping yourself informed, you can better identify when and how a patient needs advocacy and better speak to the rest of the medical team on their behalf.

Provide Education

Medical treatment can be confusing. That’s why you should always take the time to make sure your patients understand why certain treatments and/or procedures are needed. That can help alleviate patient anxiety and ensure, if they encounter problems, that they trust you to help.

Assert Yourself

When speaking on a patient’s behalf to a medical team, administrators, or insurance providers, work hard to make yourself heard. This doesn’t mean you should be combative or rude, but it does mean you should be clear and persistent. If you are concerned about patient safety, don’t let up until your concern is addressed. If you’re worried some of those on the medical team aren’t demonstrating enough cultural competency in their care of a patient, help those team members understand what they’re doing wrong and how they should be acting differently.

Be Political

If you don’t have the power and authority to do your job to the best of your ability, you can’t fully advocate for your patients. That’s why advocating for the nursing profession is such an important part of being a nurse. By joining organizations such as the American Nurses Association and/or taking the time to write and speak to your representatives about nursing issues, you can help ensure local, state, and national laws and regulations support the work of nurses and protect them from retribution when they speak for safety and other patient concerns.

Earn a Master’s Degree in Nursing

Being a good advocate and being a knowledgeable nurse go hand-in-hand. For many nurse advocates, their nursing career truly took off when they earned their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). In an MSN program, you can gain an advanced understanding of nursing, which can help you become a better advocate and take your career to the top levels. An MSN degree can lead to a career as a nurse practitioner or allow you to go into nursing education, nurse management, nurse mentoring, and other fields that need nurse leaders, such as healthcare informatics.

If earning a Master of Science in Nursing sounds like the right choice for you, you can make earning one more feasible by choosing online education. How much more feasible? Through an online MSN program, you can continue working your current nursing shifts while you earn your degree. That’s because online learning gives you the power to choose when in the day you attend class, allowing you to arrange your studies around your existing schedule. There’s no need to live close to or even drive to a nursing school. And, once you graduate, you’ll be that much closer to having a great career and being a great advocate for your patients and your profession.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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