Term Paper: Nurse as Patient Advocate Persons

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[. . .] Mary Brophy (2001) discusses the role of nurse advocacy in the neonatal unit. The doctors and nurses are acting in the best interest of the infant. However, they also must not forget the infant also has a family who also has an opinion as to what is best for the infant. This can get into a struggle as to who has the most rights, especially when the opinions differ widely..

In the days of Florence Nightingale, nurses were the subjects of the doctors. They treated a group of patients, whom, except for a few were an uneducated lot and placed their lives in the hands of the educated. The doctor, because of differences between the educational level of himself and that of his patient, often achieved a "God-like" status in the eyes of the patient. He knew what to do when they had nowhere to turn. The patient was a victim and at the mercy of the doctor. Patient rights were not an issue. The right to know was also not an issue, as most of the patients would not understand their condition anyway.

Now doctors and nurses are dealing with a more educated and informed society and the patient has definite opinions about their own care. In the early days of nursing, patients did not have a choice of doctors and were stuck with whoever was local. Now, with advances in communications and transportation, patients act more as consumers (Hewitt, 2002). As consumers they make buying choices as to whom to give their business to. They must be made to feel that they are in control to some degree. If they feel that information is being withheld or that the staff is not acting in their best interest, then they can choose another practitioner or hospital. This new-found knowledge is the basis for the dilemma that nurses face today, especially when acting in the role of patient advocate.

The changing role do of the nurse has been dictated by the changing role of the patient. Patients are becoming more service oriented and nurses' roles are changing as well. Nurses are no longer just following orders given by an omnipotent doctor, but are recognized as professionals in their own right. Their primary interest should always be in the best interest of the patient. The question is where to draw the line. Nurses now have more authority and are allowed to make many decisions that would have been off-limits in the past. Patients expect them to be knowledgeable and not dependent upon doctors for their every move.

The basic ethical question faced by nurses today is not one of right and wrong. It is not that they should have to choose between the patient and the rules. The question is where to draw the line. The role of nurses used to be clearly defined as far as what nurses did, what patients did and what doctors did. The greater knowledge and educational levels of both nurses and patients has blurred the clear definitions of these roles. This is the issue that needs to be resolved. The role of nursing needs to be more clearly defined as we approach an age of ever-increasing knowledge. Everyone needs to know where his or her authority stops.

Nurses need to maintain the role of patient advocate, but the rules need to be revised, so that there is no longer a conflict. The nurse is the one who has the most contact with the patient and is often the one who spots a change before anyone else. To ignore her knowledge and professionalism would be to do a disservice to the patient and the establishment itself. Sometimes the observations of the nurse have been key to the outcome of the patient. For this reason the nurse needs to have more say in the care of patients. However, the line needs to be drawn between the doctor's orders, establishment interests, and the nurse's opinions and actions. Only with cooperation between nurses, doctors, and patients can medical facilities offer patients the best possible care, which of course is everyone's primary role..

Works Cited

Brophy, Mary S. Sheeran (2001). Nurse Advocacy in the neonatal unit: Putting theory into Practice. Journal of Neonatal Nursing. Volume 7 (1). p. 10-12.

Hewitt, Jeanette (2002). A Critical Review of the Arguments Debating the Role of the Nurse Advocate. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Volume 37 (5). March 2002. p. 439-435.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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