Nurses are often the medical staff that works most directly with patients. This means they are best suited to advocate for their patients’ well-being at all stages of medical diagnosis and treatment. When patients have nurses acting as their advocates, recovery times are reduced, as are healthcare costs.

Fortunately, the tools necessary to advocate for a patient’s well-being are not difficult. Here are some of the best ways that nurses can advocate for the well-being of their patients and provide the highest level of care.

Teach and educate patients about their health concerns and conditions

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The more educated a patient is about their health, the better. Being diagnosed or even tested for some conditions is stressful and worrisome for most patients. Nurses need to be straightforward and honest while maintaining high compassion and empathy.

It is easy for patients to jump to conclusions about their diagnoses because they lack the background to properly understand their health and treatment. For example, even if a patient is simply being tested for a condition and likely does not have it, the patient may still worry almost as much as if he or she were already diagnosed. It is common to think that if a doctor orders a test, then the doctor must know something that the patient does not.

If a test or screening is routine in some situations, patients need to know this for their peace of mind.

Nurses must be honest about health conditions and offer a balance of positives and negatives. It is always a good idea to offer up some things that patients can take charge of to improve their health. Illness and chronic conditions often leave patients feeling powerless. By showing patients what they can do, nurses can empower patients, offer hope, and make a big difference in patients’ outlook and happiness.

Nurses should always make patient safety a priority

There is a lot to think about and do when it comes to keeping patients safe at any medical facility or care center. To prevent infection and disease, nurses should prioritize sterilization and cleanliness for the health of their patients. A clean room and bed are also good for patient morale. When patients see that staff are going the extra mile to ensure everything is as nice as possible, they tend to be less stressed.

Preventing falls is another major concern. Rooms should be free of clutter that blocks main paths to exits, bathrooms, and other essential areas.

Of course, patient safety doesn’t stop when they are discharged, either. Nurses can advocate for patient safety by providing clear instructions regarding discharge and ensuring that safe, at-home care can be provided. A medical team can help patients and family members access resources and services that ensure a safe recovery or a transition to a different type of lifestyle at home due to illness or injury. This assistance shows patients that their medical team truly cares about their safety and well-being.

Nurses should continue to gain skills and education so they can be better advocates

Gaining new skills by gaining a new degree or credentials helps nurses offer higher care to their patients while advancing their careers. The medical industry is facing a shortage of nursing leaders, including family nurse practitioners. Walsh University offers an excellent FNP program online. As a family nurse practitioner, you will work directly with patients to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications for a variety of illnesses and conditions.

Nurse practitioners have many opportunities to work at hospitals, community clinics, universities, and private medical practices. If you want to have a more personal role in your patients’ health, achieving an FNP degree while working is a great idea.

Always listen to patients and address any concerns or requests promptly

It is good for patient morale if they feel that their concerns are prioritized. Nurses are often the caregivers and providers that patients see the most. Even if patient requests or questions seem trivial, they should be given at least some attention. A patient who feels ignored may turn to another medical facility for care the next time they need it.

Some patient requests may require the input of another health professional. When this is the case, nurses should reassure the patient that they are working on getting the answer they need.

Nurses are patient counselors too. Patients often open up and talk about what they are going through. Nurses need to have high empathy and listening skills, so patients feel cared for emotionally and physically.

Ensure the patient’s entire care team has an open line of communication

While nurses are often the primary caregivers at a medical facility, they are part of a larger team of medical professionals and technicians. Ensuring good communication among medical teams is essential to providing a high level of care.

Medical records are almost entirely computerized and accessible to the whole medical team. Making sure that important notes and updates are entered into the main records in a timely manner helps prevent mistakes and delayed treatments.

If a matter is particularly urgent, directly talking to a team member may be necessary. Having a means of quick contact, such as a cell phone, can be a big help at larger facilities.

Encourage preventative care visits

Unfortunately, many people avoid preventative care visits. There are many reasons that patients do not consider going to preventative visits and checkups throughout their lives. In the past, a major reason for this was out-of-pocket cost. Now there are more people than ever with health insurance that covers the cost of preventative care. However, many patients are unaware of what their insurance will cover. It is a good idea for nurses to help patients understand what is covered and the importance of prevention.  Regular screenings and checkups help doctors catch potential problems before they become advanced. This can considerably reduce healthcare costs and patient suffering.

As we age, the type of preventative care visits and screenings change and become more frequent. Letting a patient know well in advance that they are approaching a time when they need to start having more preventative care visits or specific screenings is ideal because it avoids taking the patient by surprise.

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Always respect patient privacy and personal wishes when possible

Some patients prefer less involvement when possible. In this case, nurses should still advocate for their patients but in a way that respects the patient’s need for privacy in the room. This might mean making it clear that you are there for them whenever needed, that they can contact you with the call button, and then limiting other visits to the necessary ones.

Patients may occasionally make personal requests. When possible, it is best to honor these. However, if it is impossible to fulfill at that time, the situation should be explained to the patient.

Be aware of resources and programs to help cover medical costs that insurance does not

Some chronic illnesses may have associated costs that exceed what patient insurance covers. This can seem overwhelming to a patient and can lead them to refusing treatment that can extend or even save his or her life. Nurses should always have a list of resources and organizations that may be able to help. Having a thorough knowledge of government assistance programs for low-income patients is helpful.

At larger medical facilities, there may be staff whose sole job is to help patients find ways to pay for treatments.

Some non-profit agencies offer medical bill assistance to people who meet their criteria. Regardless of what resources are available, a good nurse will try to connect patients with people who can help ensure the patient does not forego important medical treatments.


Nurses have a duty to advocate for their patients. When patients feel like they have a strong team, they have a better chance at a fast recovery with less stress.

Being a good advocate for your patients is something that comes naturally for many nurses, but even those nurses may be able to improve if they focus on the key areas of patient advocacy.

Healthcare administrators should consider ways they can help nurses be better patient advocates.