Nurses are caught between two very different groups of people: patients and doctors. Doctors often have lots of responsibilities to execute very quickly, and it’s easy to miss something in the rush. Patients may not understand why or why not a doctor does something. Nurses can bridge that gap with patient advocacy. Patient advocacy includes explaining things clearly to patients, while advocating their case to the attending physician.
As a travel nurse, practicing your patient advocacy is even more important. Read on for some specific tips on being a great patient advocate – even if you’re new to the floor.
It’s important to remind yourself regularly that you are knowledgeable. You went to school for several years and worked hard for your certifications! Be confident in your own expertise – there’s a reason you got this contract. Use your training to help other nurses and patients understand why something is happening. Your knowledge and background can do a lot to diffuse tension and worry.
If you see a frustrated or confused patient, take the time to listen to their concerns. One way to do this is Reflective Listening. Use language that reflects what they just told you. As a mirror reflects an image, you can reflect your patients’ worries, fears, and hopes. This “mirroring” builds trust quickly with patients. When you practice reflective listening, they’ll feel reassured and taken care of. You’ll quickly develop a reputation as the nurse who “gets” patients.
Maybe there’s a particularly gruff doctor on your floor who’s resistant to suggestions. See how other nurses handle difficult situations with that particular doctor. You might find that he or she responds better to a simple statement of fact. Or you might realize that they are more receptive in general than you thought initially. Other nurses on the floor often practice patient advocacy without anyone even realizing it. So see just how much you can learn by watching more experienced nurses.
It can be difficult to speak up, especially if you’ve only been on the floor for a few weeks or days. But travel nurses have just as much right to voice their concerns as their permanent co-workers. In fact, you might even spot something that everyone else is overlooking. If your gut is telling you to say something, trust yourself and speak up. You might catch something important that nobody else did.
How do you practice patient advocacy? Any tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!
By Aubrey Schieuer