10.3 Individual and Interpersonal Advocacy

As discussed previously, the American Nurses Association (ANA) defines advocacy at the individual level as educating health care consumers so they can consider actions, interventions, or choices related to their own personal beliefs, attitudes, and knowledge to achieve the desired outcome. In this way, the health care consumer learns self-management and decision-making.[1] Advocacy at the interpersonal level is defined as empowering health care consumers by providing emotional support, assistance in obtaining resources, and necessary help through interactions with families and significant others in their social support network.[2]

What does advocacy look like in a nurse’s daily practice? The following are some examples provided by an oncology nurse[3]:

  • Ensure Safety. Ensure the client is safe when being treated in a health care facility and when they are discharged by communicating with case managers or social workers about the client’s need for home health or assistance after discharge so it is arranged before they go home.
  • Give Clients a Voice. Give clients a voice when they are vulnerable by staying in the room with them while the doctor explains their diagnosis and treatment options to help them ask questions, get answers, and translate information from medical jargon.
  • Educate. Educate clients on how to manage their current or chronic conditions to improve the quality of their everyday life. For example, clients undergoing chemotherapy can benefit from the nurse teaching them how to take their anti-nausea medication in a way that will be most effective for them and will allow them to feel better between treatments.
  • Protect Patient Rights. Know clients’ wishes for their care. Advocacy may include therapeutically communicating a client’s wishes to an upset family member who disagrees with their choices. In this manner, the client’s rights are protected and a healing environment is established.
  • Double-Check for Errors. Know that everyone makes mistakes. Nurses often identify, stop, and fix errors made by interprofessional team members. They flag conflicting orders from multiple providers and notice oversights. Nurses should read provider orders and carefully compare new orders to previous documentation. If an order is unclear or raises concerns, a nurse should discuss their concerns with another nurse, a charge nurse, a pharmacist, or the provider before implementing it to ensure patient safety.
  • Connect Clients to Resources. Help clients find resources inside and outside the hospital to support their well-being. Know resources in your agency, such as case managers or social workers who can assist with financial concerns, advance directives, health insurance, or transportation concerns. Request assistance from agency chaplains to support spiritual concerns. Promote community resources, such as patient or caregiver support networks, Meals on Wheels, or other resources to meet their needs.

  1. American Nurses Association. (2021). Nursing: Scope and standards of practice (4th ed.). American Nurses Association.
  2. American Nurses Association. (2021). Nursing: Scope and standards of practice (4th ed.). American Nurses Association.
  3. Nitzky, A. (2018, August 30). Six ways nurses can advocate for patients. Oncology Nursing News. https://www.oncnursingnews.com/view/six-ways-nurses-can-advocate-for-patients


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Nursing Management and Professional Concepts Copyright © by Chippewa Valley Technical College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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