What Does a Nurse Advocate Do?
A nurse advocate acts as a liaison between patients and their health care providers in order to improve or maintain the quality of care that patients receive. To help patients make the best decision regarding their health, these nurses educate them about illness, ensure that they understand their diagnosis and inform them about all of the possible treatment options. Although nurses take orders from doctors, they must be able to speak up for patients when those orders conflict with what the patients wants. With each patient having different circumstances, beliefs, and preferences, it is not uncommon for their wishes to conflict with doctor’s orders. Nurse advocates communicate with doctors and try to offer patients alternative solutions that are carefully thought out and executed. Their job is to assist patients even when they do not agree with them, so they cannot get personally involved and must keep their personal thoughts and feelings about decisions to themselves.
How Can I Become a Nurse Advocate?
If you want to be a nurse advocate, you must first earn a bachelor’s or associate degree in nursing, or graduate from a nursing diploma program. After successfully completing your education, you will need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become a licensed registered nurse. Nurse advocacy is a diverse area that not only involves medicine, but social work, research, insurance, and patient education. While there is no official certification, curriculum, or set standards for becoming a nurse advocate, those who want to solidify their qualifications can take advantage of different educational programs. Healthcare Liaison, Inc. offers a Certified Healthcare Advocate program that offers training in the areas of family assistance, discharge planning, health care advocacy, communication strategies, cross-cultural issues, insurance systems, and end of life decision-making. RN Patient Advocates, PLLC, has a Registered Nurse Patient Advocate course that educates a limited number of nurses on the advocacy process and enables them to earn certification as an independent RN Patient Advocate.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Nurse Advocate?
Employment of all types of registered nurses will grow much faster than other occupations, an expected increase of 22 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The emerging field of health care advocacy is rapidly growing and nurses can find a variety of jobs within it. Nurse advocates work in challenging and rewarding work environments and are typically employed at hospitals, health care clinics, and private practices. These nurses are always learning new things, as they must stay on top of new health care legislation, insurance procedures, patient treatments and medicines. By furthering their education and obtaining relevant experience and knowledge in the area of health care advocacy, nurse advocates can experience advancement opportunities and career mobility. According to PayScale, the median expected salary for a registered nurse is $62,527 annually, but salaries can vary depending on location, experience and company.