Dear Nurses, We Are Here to Help

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Dear Nurses, We Are Here to Help

For the second time in just a few days, I’ve learned from an AdvoConnection advocate member that a nurse has become defensive and territorial in reaction to his choice of career. Now, please know that I’m not dogging on all nurses. Not all all. Instead I’m looking at this as an opportunity to clarify – for everyone’s benefit, not just nurses’. Last week I answered the question, “Does a patient advocate have to be a nurse?”  The question came in response to an experience where nurses had actually looked down their noses at another advocate, a non-nurse, suggesting she did not have the qualifications to be a patient advocate.  My answer is no.  All nurses are advocates, but not all patient advocates need to be nurses. This time it’s very different, but no less upsetting to the person who was on the receiving end of the nurse’s defensiveness.  The advocate’s name is Ken.  He has worked for more than 30 years as both a physician’s assistant and a nurse.  In a conversation with another nurse, one who works in an oncology infusion center, he told her his plans for establishing himself as a private patient advocate.  She reacted by telling him that there was no room for him in healthcare as an advocate. SHE is the patient advocate for her patients. Without question, I’m sure she, like most nurses, is an advocate for her patients.  But that’s not the same — at all — as a private patient advocate or navigator.  The real parallel, perhaps, is a private duty nurse.  A private duty nurse is definitely a private patient advocate, too. But that’s not what Ken’s nurse-friend is.  Here are some of the differences, and the reasons why there is room for both nurses and advocates when it comes time to help a patient: 1.  Nurses are provider or facility-bound.  That is, the patient comes and goes, but the nurse stays, connected to the provider or facility.  As long as the patient is inside the nurse’s (provider’s or facility’s) domain, then the nurse can be the patient’s advocate.  But there…


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