Patient Advocate

  1. Once again, I am being faced with a crisis involving patient advocacy. I am employed as a RN BSN faculty member and one of my clinicals is on a Med-Surg floor. I have witnessed so many unsafe issues and have reported them to their Administration and Education Coordinators. I have also intervened to protect patient safety. There is a great deal of politics in hospitals and academia and that cannot be ignored. I have spoken to these low standards in conference and have informed the students that my conferences are confidential. Needless to say, there is a student who has been employed there for many years and she informed the nursing administration about the content discussed in those conferences. To think that asking me not to come back into their building with my clinical group is going to make my spirit disappear....they are dead wrong! I will continue to fight these issues outside of their won't be the first time either. I have dealt with politics many times in my career and I simply won't give into it. Being a patient advocate is not always popular as many of us have experienced.

    I am wondering how those of you who have been involved in such a situation, coped with the dilemma of no one listening to you to affect change? This is not a post whereby I am asking for educator vs. staff nurse feedback...purely about patient safety. I have seen many shocking things in my career, but I have never seen this level of care in a JCAHO accredited hospital. To want to shove something under the rug rather than problem-solve is beyond me. I am accustomed to working in teaching hospitals and this one is rural...perhaps that is the difference? I have taught in another community hospital and did not witness this behavior or a nursing administration that was so blind to problems within their own walls.

    In advance, I appreciate your input,

  2. Visit barb4575 profile page

    About barb4575

    Joined: Dec '00; Posts: 179; Likes: 24


  3. by   canoehead
    I don't have a solution but applaud your advocacy. The students should know when care should be given differently, and admin should be backing YOU up.
  4. by   traumaRUs
    Barb - congrats on being a pt advocate - there can be no higher compliment. I gather you can take your students to other hospitals? Good luck...they are lucky to have you as their instructor.
  5. by   mtnmom
    One of the most valuable lessons that can be learned is that of patient advocacy. God bless you - from experience I know that the high road is by far the most difficult to travel.

    Have you discussed the matter with your department head/SON dean? I would question whether any nursing program worth its salt would want to continue to use such a facility for clinicals.
  6. by   barb4575
    The past experience at this institution led the instructor to remove the students from that hospital....seems like someone would get the hint that we aren't really welcome there. However, I have been removed as their clinical instructor. I prayed so hard about it and the next day, poof it was all over. However, I think the students will get the wrong impression that being a patient advocate may lead to negative effects. Of course, I am not the one who will inform my students. Yes, I think the entire situation and institution needs to be reevaluated. I do have other students in a clinical setting at another facility and this will give me more time to focus on them and get another nurse practice job.

    I have reevaluated my desire to remain in this setting as well. I think I have arrived at my decision.

    Thank you,

  7. by   nursebonkers
    Write this story in a letter to your state's senate health and human services committee, your state legislator, your congressman in the US Senate, Go go go!
    I have also been extremely frustrated about not being able to provide quality care for my patients. I am struggling to keep people alive in one of NJ's overcrowded emergency rooms. Patients classified at triage as Urgents (pts recommended being seen in 1 hour by a physician) have waited as long as 6 hours to be seen by a physician. I am just waiting for another one of them to die in the waiting room! Yes this has happenned. Last year October 2003!!! One woman waited about 2 hours and was in moderate respiratory distress and there was no place to put her , no one to take care of her , the nurse in triage kept calling to get her back to treatment area. BY THE TIME THE WOMAN WAS WHEELED BACK TO A ROOM< SHE WENT INTO CARDIAC ARREST!! was coded and died. I have spoken to the nurse in triage asking her to write a letter to the state, but she fears for her job, even though in this New Jersey there are whistleblower protection laws. I know I will be writing this letter myself soon!!! Visit
  8. by   barb4575
    I have begun the task of legislative intervention.... :hatparty:

    Thank you all,

  9. by   TinyNurse
    I applaud you! especially with discussing these things with your clinical students.
    I am a new grad working for 7 months in the ER, and I am a complete patient advocate. I find that when I notify the other "nurses i can trust" about these things, they have no problem with how I feel and the things that I take note of. Also my ER charge nurse is great about patient advocacy. I am pleased to work with such great nurses!!
    I haven't been in your situation, neither do I know the beaurcracy involved with faculty/facility, but I am proud of you that you follow your gut, and teach your students to do the same.......... because someday they will be put in the same situation.......and won't have an instructor to hold their hand.
    btw.... some of my profs dealt with similar situations and they would say "this is how they do it, and this is the right way to do it" etc, etc.
    I'm glad you stuck to your guns and took it to legislative intervention, and this is a real part of nursing that your students must be aware of also.
    xo Jenni
  10. by   Rapheal
    Barb I commend you for your efforts. I do believe however that it is largely a fact that when you become a patient advocate on some units you will suffer negative effects. That is just a fact and your students will have to learn this and deal with it.
    Good luck in your endevours.
  11. by   NRSKarenRN
    Annonomyous complaints can be called into State Health Department.
    In PA, our Attorney General invstigates concerns like this.

    Any specific concerns regarding Medicare clients? They have whisleblower protection
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Mar 5, '04
  12. by   fiestynurse
    Just read your post Barb and just about fell off my chair! This exact same thing happened to me. The VP of Nursing called the Dean of the local City College Nursing Program and had me removed from clinicals at the hospital. I had exercised my duty as a patient advocate by participating in an article for "Self" magazine. The stupid magazine mentioned the hospitals name and called them for a comment (I trusted that the journalist would protect my interests - wrong!) Prior to that, I had worked at this hospital for 12 years and left on good terms. Later, I was hired as an Adjunct Professor at the local City College. I was transitioning from bedside nursing to law. (Had recently gotten my law degree and was studying for the California Bar - if you think the NCLEX is tough!) I was teaching a Maternal Child Health class and loving it. It was really important to me to pass along my experience and knowledge. It felt good! The students liked me and I liked all of them very much. I was just getting my feet wet in a law firm and I was looking forward to maybe teaching some classes on the legal aspects of nursing or health care risk management. (I also have a certificate on Health Care Risk Management) Found out that I was really good at this teaching stuff. Was very excited about doing this on the side.

    Then, the Dean asked me if I would help out with a clinical at the hospital. They didn't have many instructors with maternal child health experience. There was basically a shortage of instructors. I was a little reluctant about going back into the hospital, but how could I say no?

    When the Dean called me into her office and told me what the hospital had done, I was stunned! Evidently, the hospital just made a large donation to the nursing school to expand their program. I understood the position that the Dean was put in, but I still think that she had no balls!

    I did nothing at first, but it really bothered me and I had this law degree now and I was not the same nurse I use to be. My law degree greatly empowered me to stand up for my rights and the rights of others, especially nurses. So, I did one of the guttiest things that I have ever done in my entire nursing career , I went to the local news paper and told them my story. A few days later there I was on the FRONT page of the local paper!
    The telephone did not stop ringing for a few days. Nurses calling me non-stop to give me support. I still have nurses come up to me in the grocery store or the bank. The Nursing School has not had me teach a class since then - my greatest loss. It's been over 2 years now and I have no regrets. I am currently in a job that I love.

    Barb - I am not saying that you do what I did, but there is something deeply disturbing about all of this. Nursing Instructors have to be given the right to speak freely on the issues that effect nurses and patients. I don't like what is happening in our nursing schools!

    P.S. This is only for Barb - My passion and emotions are what make me a successful nurse attorney. Don't ever lose that!
  13. by   barb4575
    I had PM'd you yesterday and you responded here...I appreciate the support you have offered and sorry that someone else went through this too. This was my fifteenth clinical group and something I had never experienced before and never care to repeat. The funny part about it is that it has backfired on this VP of Nursing as many students informed me that they never planned to work there after graduation and definitely aren't doing so now. I had decided to leave this college about three weeks before this occurrence due to it's disorganization and the lack of commitment to the students that I have witnessed. I kept hoping that it would change, but it hasn't yet and don't see that happening any time soon. The Dean hoped that I would stay, but I also think she understands my position. Regardless, I have to do what is healthy for me. I will continue to give my all to those students I do have, but the academic political arena is not for me...and that is everywhere. There are many avenues in which to teach....for me, it is a calling, just as nursing is too. But, I feel certain that God would not want me to remain in this situation...

    I know that the local media would not be an avenue for me, but I have taken action in a legislative sense. I have also done that before even if it did take four years to see a significant change.

    I can see where you get your screen name,

  14. by   nurse0541
    Quote from NRSKarenRN
    Annonomyous complaints can be called into State Health Department.
    In PA, our Attorney General invstigates concerns like this.

    Any specific concerns regarding Medicare clients? They have whisleblower protection
    Those anonymous tip lines really do work. I have recently had a situation where I had to use one and positive changes were immediately put into effect to right the wrongs and protect the patients.

    It is truly wonderful to find out how many nurses there are who are so active in patient advocacy! My husband told me I was taking this stuff to personal, I don't see how you can have a conscience and feel differently.
    Last edit by nurse0541 on Sep 11, '07 : Reason: add a comment