Nurse Advocacy for Healthcare Professionals

medical-cross-icons-with-bgThe social media pages of healthcare professionals are being increasingly wallpapered with memes regarding the stressors that accompany their professions.

While these jokes provide instant gratification and a good laugh for healthcare staff, the sad reality is that there is a pertinent issue that lies behind this form of social media propaganda.

Unbeknownst to most individuals who are not employed within the healthcare industry, healthcare reimbursement is in part being driven by patient satisfaction scores.

This means, unfortunately, that reimbursement is impacted by patient perception of aspects of their hospital stay that are not necessarily related to the direct care provided by medical professionals.

While this topic will likely resonate with healthcare professionals, it is also my intention to bring it to the attention of those who do not work in the industry.

Sadly, everyone is at the risk of requiring emergent care at one point in their life.

Similarly, it is always possible that a loved one may end up in the hospital, whether it be for an elective procedure or because of an ailment.

While customer service is unquestionably important in any business, do we really want our nation’s healthcare organizations to prioritize care providers fetching beverages of choice over providing bedside care?

Before continuing, allow me to clarify why advocating for patient well-being, as well as giving healthcare professionals credit where credit is due is a passion of mine. My personality, at times, is misunderstood and often met with resistance because of the high level of enthusiasm I hold for my career.

It has been a personal goal to break down the stereotypes and stigma associated with specific diseases and patient populations since I enrolled in nursing school.

Stereotyping is something I am more than familiar with and have fallen victim to on several occasions. Please allow me to elaborate.

Based on my physical appearance, ethnicity, age, education level, and the fact that I graduated from a very prestigious high school, I am frequently mislabeled. In the first twelve years of my life, I moved five times.

These life changes were accompanied by a handful of personal challenges. At the same time, these same challenges provided the opportunity to learn so much about different places, cultures, and individual values. It also created a level of assertiveness I probably would not otherwise possess today.

On a sadder note, it also provided exposure to some very heartbreaking life experiences. When I was in sixth grade, a fellow peer hanged himself in the public school bathroom I attended.

By age twelve, that heartrending moment had opened my eyes to the various health issues that existed in our nation.

In high school, I helped one of my best friends overcome her struggle with an eating disorder and a few other peers through battles with addiction.

My passion for the mental health field was very high, and still is, but as time went on, I was unfortunately exposed to more tragedy, and therefore also learned to appreciate the contributions of various other healthcare departments.

During my senior year of college, on February 14, 2008, my alma mater, Northern Illinois University, was inflicted with the most unimaginable of tragedies.

A gunman entered a lecture hall and opened fire on students and staff. Despite the hard work of first responders, a friend’s life was lost that day, along with four other innocent souls.

Fortunately, thanks to the dedication of the medical staff at the local hospital, my friend’s girlfriend, who was also shot, survived, as did several others.

While this tragic event forever stole a piece of my heart, it also fueled me with more determination to become a nurse and make a difference in the lives of others.

It was these life experiences that afforded me the ability to empathize with patients from all different walks of life, allowed me to passionately advocate for patient well-being, and to always strive to put my patients first.

My fear is that providing such a level of inspiration and empowerment may not be possible going forward based on the way health plans are being funded.

I believe healthcare professionals are entitled to spend the majority of their shift at the bedside providing direct patient care.

They are also entitled to a higher level of recognition and appreciation for the impact that simply holding a patients hand, providing active listening, and delivering education at the bedside can have on patients’ overall health outcomes.

Not acknowledging the sweat, tears, and sacrifices healthcare professionals make for patients is truly an injustice. Every patient deserves to be treated with compassion, dignity, and respect.

Likewise, healthcare professionals deserve the right to be able to prioritize those attributes above anything else.

If after reading this, only one nurse feels the same inspiration that I have been given by other healthcare professionals, then there will be a greater opportunity for change.

Only through banding together will healthcare professionals be able to influence change.

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