Nurses have been advocates for patients throughout the history of nursing, but a nurse advocate is now a formally recognized nursing career that may be pursued within the overall field of nursing. Nurse advocates focus on acting as strong liaisons between physicians, patients and families to promote patient health. They may specialize in specific health challenges and conditions, including cancer or diabetes, or they may serve specific patient groups, such as women or under-served populations.
Basic Educational Requirements
Nurse advocacy requires a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN) to start. While most BSN degrees take four years, there are some accelerated programs. You may also already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, in which case you may be able to obtain the BSN degree in less than four years. You will also need to take the NCLEX exam to become a registered nurse.
Additional Education and Experience
In addition to your BSN and RN, nurse advocates also have specialties in different areas of patient advocacy. Some of these may relate to complex and challenging diseases and conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Other specialties include additional certificate programs and education such as social work, medical research, patient education and insurance. A combination of additional education and experience will help you in selecting your practice as a nurse advocate.
Education Standards and Accredited Programs
To be a registered nurse, a requirement to practice as a nurse advocate, you must also meet the licensing requirements in your state. You will also need to have a good grade point average (GPA) while in school, and be able to show proficiency in required courses in math, science and English (including passing the TOEFL test for non-native English speakers).
Nurse Journal, the social community for nurses, advises that you should be certain that you are taking nurse advocacy courses from a school that is accredited from either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
At present, the certification standards for nurse advocates are the same as those for any registered nurse, according to American Nurse Today. You will need to prove that you can create a safe and effective environment for patients and carers, including infection control. You will also need to show that you can cope with job demands and adapt to the constantly-changing environment in healthcare provision, and also show ability to promote and maintain better health, including strong knowledge of early intervention and disease prevention.
Related Resource: How Do You Become a Certified Nurse Midwife?
Becoming a nurse advocate is a rewarding career working with patients to help them understand their health and medical conditions, as well as communicate effectively with physicians and other specialists. You will work directly with patients to help them achieve better health outcomes, and you will use research and problem-solving skills every day. This career also helps to overcome challenges in healthcare culture, promoting good communication and environments of safety that respect patients, families and caregivers. Nurse advocates are strongly committed to helping individuals to achieve and keep good health.