How family nurse practitioners empower individuals in their healthcare journey

How Family Nurse Practitioners Empower Individuals In Their Healthcare Journey

19 Oct, 2023 posted by Daniel

Advocacy is widely seen as a foundational ethical principle of nursing and is intrinsic to the nursing profession. Patients and families can feel helpless when navigating a complex and fragmented healthcare system.

Thus, they need more information to make sound decisions. This infliction of vulnerability emphasizes the need for micro-social advocacy — where nurses advocate individual patient needs and are more closely engaged in care.

At the macro level, considering the larger social context, health disparity is critical in pushing for advocacy. In doing so, steps can be taken to ensure equitable access to appropriate healthcare for everyone.


What is a family nurse practitioner?

A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is a nurse with expert knowledge in providing primary or specialized care to patients of any age. Depending on the state, FNPs can independently practice medicine and prescribe medications for individuals and families, working as primary healthcare providers in hospitals, clinics or private practices.

Family nurse practitioners currently possess one of the broadest scopes of practice among all advanced training registered nursing professions. They provide primary care for patients of all ages — from newborns to the elderly — and assess, diagnose and treat any illness they may present.

FNPs utilize their enhanced nursing capabilities to assess, observe and manage illnesses in people of all ages, shapes and sizes. They are responsible for addressing the basic health requirements of patients visiting clinics and hospitals nationwide.

These professionals also provide preventive care through checkups, helping identify potential issues before they become more serious. FNPs are highly experienced and respected healthcare professionals caring for patients of all ages and backgrounds.


Who is a patient advocate?

Patient advocacy involves speaking up for patients, survivors and caregivers to ensure they receive the best quality of healthcare. A person or organization promoting healthcare standards, or a particular set of illnesses, may act as a patient advocate.

Individuals who provide patient advocacy services, and organizations dedicated to patient advocacy, may be referred to as patient advocates or patient advocacy groups. They may support individuals, consult with organizations, and use their knowledge and expertise to promote and protect patients’ rights.

Patient advocates can assist patients with making doctor appointments, arranging medical examinations, and obtaining financial, legal and social assistance. A patient navigator assists individuals in navigating the healthcare system and connecting them with the resources they need, such as communicating with insurance companies and other individuals involved in a patient’s healthcare.

For those who want to be patient advocates, Texas Woman’s University offers an MSN FNP program uniquely designed for BSN-prepared nurses. Enrolled students gain expertise in clinical practice by focusing on precision, quality and providing high-level patient care.


Ways family nurse practitioners can serve as patient advocates

Here are ways nurse practitioners can serve as patient advocates:


Ensure safety

Ensuring safety means nurse practitioners must provide their patients with safe treatments, medications and safe and appropriate healthcare services. They must make sure that their patients understand and agree with their treatment plan, and they need to advocate their patient’s rights to obtain the best and safest care possible.

FNPs should educate patients on the importance of reporting adverse events and be aware of proper methods for documenting and reporting potential risks. They must lobby for patient safety in the community, regularly conducting health promotion campaigns and assessing the need for healthcare services.


Give patients a voice

Giving patients a voice centers around listening to their issues and concerns and giving them a platform to speak out and have those issues heard. Family nurse practitioners can do this by engaging with their patients, creating an open dialogue and maintaining a healthy connection.

This open communication can create an atmosphere that is conducive to the sharing of information and the voicing of opinions. It also allows nurse practitioners to understand a patient’s unique needs better, enabling them to provide more informed and appropriate care options.

When a patient has a valid concern, FNPs can assess it to determine if they should refer it to the appropriate healthcare provider or leverage specific resources to help them.


Protect patients’ rights

FNPs can serve as patient advocates by protecting patients’ rights. By doing so, they can ensure that patients receive the best care possible while protecting their civil rights, privacy and autonomy.

This includes advocating the patient’s right to a safe and non-discriminatory healthcare environment, understanding their rights and options regarding care, and providing them access to the care they need.

They can also ensure that the patient receives information about the risks and benefits associated with the recommended treatments and is empowered to make decisions about their care. FNPs are responsible for respecting the patient’s right to informed consent and can help ensure patients know all the available legal options.


Double-check for errors

As a family nurse practitioner, it is vital to ensure that patient care is both safe and of high quality. Serving as a patient advocate involves supporting patients’ rights and ensuring they receive the best possible care.

One way in which family nurse practitioners can serve as patient advocates is by double-checking for errors. Double-checking includes confirming medical orders, medication orders and laboratory results to ensure accuracy and safety.

It is also a way to ensure optimal patient outcomes by reducing the chances of errors due to misinterpretation. In addition to checking for medical errors, it is important to double-check for any issues with patient safety, such as equipment use.


Connect patients to resources

FNPs can connect patients to resources to meet their needs and promote their health. Connecting patients to resources can help ensure they have access to the care and services they need.

This can include referring patients to other medical providers, connecting them to mental health services, providing support groups and programs, and coordinating care with social service programs. FNPs can also help patients navigate the healthcare system by providing education and assistance with understanding and accessing insurance coverage.


How do family nurse practitioners empower individuals in their healthcare journey?

Here are the ways FNPs empower individuals in their healthcare journey:


Patient education

Through education, FNPs can help individuals learn and understand their health needs. This knowledge allows individuals to take an active role in their care, make informed decisions and play a part in managing their health.

Through patient education, FNPs can provide strategies to prevent and manage existing health issues, emphasize preventive health and empower individuals to be active and informed participants in their healthcare. Patient education can provide individuals with the necessary skills to maximize their use of healthcare resources and make informed decisions about treatments, medications and lifestyle changes.

Patient education by FNPs is an invaluable tool that empowers individuals to take ownership of their health journey and lead healthier lives.


Healthy lifestyle management

Family nurse practitioners empower individuals in their healthcare journey by providing guidance, education and resources that promote healthy lifestyle management. Through healthy lifestyle management, they advocate for the individual’s health and wellbeing by teaching them how to make positive lifestyle choices to improve their health.

These choices are often centered on nutrition, physical activity, stress reduction, sleep and other lifestyle-related topics. For example, FNPs may provide individual and family counseling, food and physical activity education, assistance in creating an action plan customized to the individual’s needs, and referrals for other support resources as needed.

By actively managing their health through healthy lifestyle management, individuals are empowered to take charge of their health outcomes and make informed decisions regarding their care. This ultimately leads to better health outcomes and a more rewarding healthcare journey.


Empowerment through self-advocacy

Empowerment through self-advocacy is a strategy that family nurse practitioners utilize to empower individuals to become more actively involved in their healthcare journey. This active involvement is achieved by providing individuals with tools, resources, knowledge and education that will allow them to be advocates for themselves and their families.

The family nurse practitioner’s role is to assist individuals in understanding their health needs, rights and responsibilities and provide education on decision making related to their healthcare. This includes offering suitable solutions, making sure the individual is aware of all available resources and information, and speaking as an advocate on their behalf.

Empowerment through self-advocacy aims to offer support and direction to help individuals make informed and confident healthcare decisions. Family nurse practitioners can empower individuals in their healthcare journey by giving them better understanding and control over their healthcare decisions.


Coordination with other professionals

Coordination with other professionals is essential for FNPs to empower individuals in their healthcare journey. By working and communicating with other healthcare professionals, they can provide a comprehensive healthcare plan for the patient and their family.

FNPs can collaborate with other providers to develop a treatment plan by gathering details about the individual’s lifestyle, medical history and current health situation. They can also create a timeline for monitoring improvements and give referrals for additional support services or specialized care.

This multifaceted approach to healthcare gives the patient and their family a clear pathway for better health outcomes and a more positive experience when navigating the healthcare system. FNPs can also act as a bridge between different medical disciplines, family members and other stakeholders to ensure all parties are informed and understand the patient’s treatment plan.


Recognition of patient autonomy

Family nurse practitioners empower individuals in their healthcare journey by recognizing patient autonomy and demonstrating respect and acknowledgment of a patient’s self-determination and independence.

FNPs help patients take an active and informed role in their healthcare by educating them on available treatments and their associated benefits and risks. This allows patients to make decisions and take control of their healthcare based on their values and preferences. They also ensure that patients are involved in decision making, from discussing their goals and treatment options to determining the best plan for their health.


Disease management

FNPs enable individuals by empowering them in their healthcare journey through disease management. This is through educating on prevention, screening, testing and lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet.

They also educate patients on current medical treatments and how best to manage chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. The professionals support their patients in managing their healthcare and ensure they have the tools to be advocates for themselves.

They help dispel fears and uncertainty about illness and medical care by providing precise and understandable explanations. In this way, FNPs empower individuals in their healthcare journey, providing comprehensive care that focuses on their needs and values.


Access to comprehensive healthcare

As healthcare providers, FNPs empower individuals in their health journey by offering evidence-based, patient-centered care that allows individuals to take control of their overall health needs and capabilities.

FNPs often serve as the patient’s primary contact for their health and wellness needs throughout their lifetime. Through regular patient visits, FNPs can assess an individual’s health, educate them on preventive care, and recommend treatments and medications to help manage chronic conditions.

They also refer patients to other specialists when necessary and coordinate the care between providers. This helps ensure patients access quality care promptly, empowering them to participate in their health journey actively.

Individuals’ access to comprehensive healthcare tailored to their needs helps them understand their bodies and health and how to take action to ensure they maintain a healthy lifestyle. FNPs are essential advocates for their patients, guiding them on healthy lifestyle choices, providing help with making difficult choices and decisions, and advocating their needs.


Final thoughts

Family nurse practitioners can be instrumental in-patient advocacy and ensuring that individuals have the resources and support they need to succeed on their healthcare journey.

Through patient education, assessment of health goals and collaboration with other healthcare professionals, family nurse practitioners play an essential role in helping individuals take control of their health.

By promoting patient self-advocacy and instilling within individuals the authority to make their own healthcare decisions, family nurse practitioners help create a better future for patient care.