The modern nursing practice has continued to evolve in order to adapt to the changing needs of patients and the community. The role of nurses transitioned from merely a deliverer of care to patients into one of a nursing leadership advocacy that brought a broader perception about the nursing profession. There are qualities and skills that are essential elements of a nurse health advocate which is imbued with ethical and moral values, accountability, and genuine concern for the patient’s individual needs and participation in their treatment, including the needs of vulnerable populations such as the returning war veterans and their families. This paper aims to provide insights about the significant role of nurse advocates in bringing improvement in the delivery and accessibility of health services among the returning war veterans and their families while highlighting specific health-related issues that this particular population usually encounters. This paper will further discuss the essential characteristics of a nurse as a health advocate and the qualifications they need to be effective in this modern role of nursing leadership in the more advanced concept of the nursing profession.
Nurses play an important role as part of the major workforce in the healthcare settings. They are considered to be the primary health advocates whose dedication in representing the patient needs and to bring healthcare reforms can significantly improve the quality of healthcare services received by patients in the hospital/clinical settings as well as those living in the community. To be an effective health advocate, it is crucial for a nurse to be sensitive to the needs of vulnerable individuals, family and communities, with the relevant knowledge of the resources available and how to access them in pursuit of their health advocacy (Lundy and Janes, 2009).
Begley (2010) suggested the best attributes of an effective modern nurse advocate that revolve on four major themes namely the intellectual and practical theme which represent the knowledge power of integrating practice to theory; the disposition theme pertaining to the behavioral and attitudinal aspect of nurses involving their approachable, emphatic, courteous and kind approach to patient care delivery; and the moral theme that pertains to justice, moral value and courage to stand firm towards health advocacy. Thus, an effective nurse advocate is one who can integrate science with sensitivity with accountability and responsiveness to the needs of their field of healthcare practice. A nurse’s assertion in participating in health care reform programs and legislative improvements for the same is a significant contribution of nurses in the healthcare community.
Nurse advocates for instance could deliver an effective contribution in addressing the needs of returning veterans and their families such as in addressing their lack of insurance benefits or being under insured and the higher incidence of mental health and predisposition to substance abuse (Jackonis, Deyton, and Hess, 2008). Nurses may advocate to address these needs by collaborating with the Veteran’s Affair and communicate the need for health insurance benefits among the returning veterans and their families in consideration of funding issues needed such as the mandatory contribution of appropriating funds to meet their need for affordable and accessible healthcare and medical facilities and services. Veterans who had traumatic experience of war may result to a long term healthcare service needs that do not end merely from the time they were evacuated or relieved from military service because of the risks of psychological health problems like post traumatic stress disorder that may occur later on. Veterans need federal support financially in terms of the healthcare programs that would be delivered to them with the least burden to their families. Because there seems to be no or very few postwar nursing training financing program was legislated, a nurse advocate can further pursue fundings for the same in order to help nurses develop their skills professionally in managing mental health cases arising from post war traumatic injury and in setting up a health center primarily to care for post war veterans.
Begley, A. M. (2010). On Being a Good Nurse: Reflection on the Past and Preparing for the Future. International Journal of Nursing Practice. 16: 525–532 doi:10.1111/j.1440-172X.2010.01878.x.
Jackonis, M.J., Deyton, L., and Hess, W.J. (2008). War, Its Aftermath, and U.S. Health Policy: Toward a Comprehensive Health Program for America’s Military Personnel, Veterans, and
Their Families. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics.
Lundy, K.S. and Janes, S. (2009). Community Health Nursing: Caring for the Public’s Health. London, UK: Jones & Bartlett Learning.