In all honesty, I read Jacqueline O’Doherty’s article “Why Hospitals Need Patient Advocates” in 8/10/12 Hospital Impact with some concerns. In fact, I read it twice looking for the word ‘nurse’. It’s absence is worrisome especially since nurses are the backbone of hospital care and so much of what the author was saying about the patient advocate’s role, as these excerpts suggest is that of the nurse!
“…coordinate care and ensure a smooth transition from hospital to home.”
“…work with the client to make sure they understand the medications and ensure medication management.
“…the patient needs to be clearly educated about their illness, prognosis and post-discharge instructions.”
“…patient education and continuity of care.”
“It’s the job of the patient advocate to ensure all the physicians are talking to each other and are all on the same page regarding the patient’s diagnosis and prognosis.”
Ok, I felt a little defensive, irritated even. I wanted to shout out, “Hey, nurses are patient advocates for ALL patients!”, and “If we had enough staff, time and supplies we’d be more successful!”, and “What about liability, staffing, education?” I could go on, but when I feel tension like this, I recognize it as a potential red flag. A guardedness that takes my energy into a protective rather than creative place. So I wondered, do other nurses and patient advocates feel any of this and is there a way to use it more productively?
Since I believe curiosity, true curiosity is a mainstay of collaboration and conflict management then it stands to reason that it is a crucial factor in the evolution of the relationships between nurses and patient advocates and ultimately safer care!
What Nurses Might be Curious About
- How could Patient Advocates be a resource for our patients?
- What do I/we need in order to provide effective teaching and safe discharge for all patients?
- What do I need to know about Patient Advocates’ work and what do I want them to know about nursing?
- What concerns do I/we have about working with Patient Advocates and how can we address them?
What Patient Advocates Might be Curious About
- What barriers do nurses face in providing safe patient care and how can I/we help?
- What do I/we need to understand about the nurse’s role in patient education & discharge planning?
- What would I/we like to have nurses understand about the mission and training of Patient Advocates?
- What concerns do I/we have about forming collaborative relationships with nurses?
In my mind, there is no doubt that with the right process, knowledge, and training, there is a collaborative opportunity for nurses and patient advocates that will contribute to safer care. Respectful conversations with genuine curiosity seem extremely important along the way!