The claim that nurses should be patient advocates has been a hotly debated topic in the nursing profession since the 1970’s. The literature reflects this debate in its wide variance of not only the concept but the very definition of advocacy in nursing. Provision 3 of the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Nurses specifically states advocacy as an expectation of the nurse. It is significant to note that previous editions of the Code of Ethics implied advocacy but did not specifically name advocacy until this latest edition. This is a relevant occurrence since it strongly legitimizes the role. Further, a review of the literature makes a case for the contention that if nurses are to assume the advocacy role as their professional association has mandated them to do, then they must be educated for the role and strongly encouraged to incorporate it into their everyday practice. Nurses have adopted the role in varying degrees, in varying manners and with varying results. Whether this variance is based on the characteristics of the nurse, the environment in which nursing is practiced or a myriad of other factors has not been investigated thoroughly. Further, the educational preparation of the nurse for this role has not been analyzed to assess the common elements that promote advocacy in nursing.
This qualitative study utilized the case study methodology to investigate the concept of advocacy as it relates to the role of the practicing direct care nurse. Participants in a Midwestern state in the United Sates were sought for journal submissions, focus group meetings and subsequent one on one interviews to investigate their definition of nursing advocacy as well as their perception of their educational/ experiential preparation for the role.
Data analysis assessed the verbatim notes from the focus groups, interviews as well as participant journal submissions for themes. These themes are presented in summary format.
Results of this study will assist nursing educators in both academic and clinical settings to assess and reexamine the components of advocacy education in their curriculum/educational offerings in order to assure that current and future nurses have the knowledge base to fully enact the role.