10.1 Advocacy Introduction

Learning Objectives

  • Advocate for client rights and needs
  • Utilize advocacy resources appropriately
  • Evaluate implications of contemporary health care policy for health care consumers and nursing practice
  • Explore the role of professional organizations in nursing practice
  • Discuss legislative policy-making activities that influence nursing practice and health care
  • Examine various positions on unions and collective bargaining
  • Compare and contrast various workplace advocacy models

What do you think of when you hear the word “advocacy”? Nurses act as advocates for their clients (e.g., individuals, families, communities, or populations) by protecting their “patient rights” and voicing their needs. Nurses have a long history of acting as client advocates. Early nurses advocated for professional nurses’ value and knowledge and fought for implementation of best practices, safety measures, and other quality improvements. Florence Nightingale advocated for practice changes that improved environmental conditions in health care and reduced life-threatening infections by using data to support her recommendations. Lillian Wald worked to establish public health nursing and improve the lives of immigrant communities.

More recently, nurses led the establishment of Nurse Practice Acts in each state and pushed for multistate licensing via the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The American Nurses Association (ANA) declared 2018 as the “Year of Advocacy” to highlight the importance of advocacy in the nurse’s role. Nurses continue to advocate for building healthier communities as demonstrated in the Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity report.[1]

In this chapter, we will review how every nurse is responsible for client advocacy and examine the powerful influence nurses can have on local, state, and federal health care policies that affect the nation’s health and the profession of nursing.

Read the Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity at Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action.

  1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2021). The Future of nursing 2020-2030: Charting a path to achieve health equity. The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25982


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