How to Become a Nurse Advocate

Updated on October 19, 2023

Healthcare advocacy is a rising specialization. Due to the complexity of the American healthcare system, many people can’t get the care they deserve. Even if they have medical insurance, patients complain about high out-of-pocket costs that keep them from getting the treatment they deserve.

In 2022, 38% of Americans skipped a medical procedure due the high costs. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the rural population don’t have access to the medical assistance they need. Additionally, low-income families and many other segments of the population are struggling to get medical assistance simply because they don’t know what they are entitled to.

That’s where nurse advocacy comes in.

Let’s take a closer look at what healthcare advocacy is all about and how to become a nurse advocate.

What Is a Nurse Advocate?

A nurse advocate is a nurse who helps patients navigate the healthcare system and get the care they deserve. These nurses don’t just assist with treatment and recovery. They help patients make the right decisions about their health. For that, they help provide the necessary information, explain treatment nuances, speak to insurance companies, and much more.

A nurse advocate can provide additional information to a patient who isn’t sure which treatment is right for them. They offer support in an objective manner, using their experience and expertise to help patients make educated health-related decisions.

Nurse advocates can also make sure that doctors recommend cost-effective treatment options for patients who may not afford expensive treatment. Additionally, they can educate patients about the available financial resources they can use to cover medical services. These experts can explain what insurance covers and how to use it to get the treatment a patient needs.

Nurses have always been patient advocates. However, they don’t always get the support they need from doctors, administrators, insurance companies, or peers. That’s why today, nurses have an opportunity to take courses and learn how to become better advocates.

By getting the right education, these specialists become an integral part of successful treatment for their patients.

How to Become a Nurse Advocate

To become a nurse advocate, you need to become a nurse. This involves pursuing a nursing degree. In some states, it may be sufficient to obtain a 2-year degree (Associate’s degree). However, more and more states are requiring nurses to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Keep in mind that even if your state doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree for providing a nurse’s license, some healthcare organizations and facilities prefer to hire nurses with at least four years of higher education.

NCLEX Exam

Once you complete your education, the next step is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLX-RN). This exam is designed to test your medical knowledge and evaluate your ability to become a qualified nurse.

This exam is mandatory for obtaining a state license. In case you don’t pass the test, you can retake it in 45 days.

State License

Once you pass the test, you can obtain a nurse’s license. You need this license to get a job in a healthcare facility and continue your education to become a nurse advocate. Each state has its own requirements for getting a license. Make sure you check what they are.

Advanced Education

Once you have all the documents needed to become a nurse, you can consider getting additional education. If you plan to become a nurse advocate, you can seek courses that give you sufficient knowledge to do so.

If you have a license, you can start practicing nursing advocacy without additional education. However, without it, you may not be able to provide services in full. Advocacy programs offered by some schools can train you how to handle complex cases and ethical dilemmas. They prepare you for situations nurses may not know how to deal with.

Other things you can learn by taking additional courses include:

·        How to facilitate dialogues with patients about their symptoms, treatment, and self-care habits.

·        How to make it easier for patients and their families to ask questions about their treatment.

·        How to demonstrate kindness when taking care of all patient segments.

·        Ways to incorporate legal knowledge into medical care.

You can also learn how to navigate healthcare systems and what you can do to implement changes.

Why Nursing Advocacy Matters

As the American healthcare system becomes more and more complicated, the need for healthcare advocates rises exponentially. Patients who mistakenly believe they understand the healthcare system and insurance nuances often miss out on important treatments.

Meanwhile, a significant percentage of people who don’t know how to take advantage of healthcare services, end up suffering from preventable conditions.

The more nurses choose to become nurse advocates, the more people can get appropriate treatment while keeping stress and frustration out of the process.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.