Nurses are uniquely qualified to serve as patient advocates. Studies indicate that nurses spend more time with patients than other healthcare providers and their care has a direct correlation to patient outcomes. Nurses are also able to navigate the healthcare system and ask questions on behalf of their patients. As a result, many healthcare systems are designating a new role for some nurses called a Patient Advocate Nurse, or PAN.
Overworked Nurses and Patient Safety
Nursing is a complex, high-stress, and demanding role. Researchers observed a cross-sectional group of six U.S. hospitals and found that, on average, nurses perform 84 different types of activities, including: patient examinations, medication review and administration, communication with other medical staff, patients, and families, and more. During an eight-hour shift, a nurse performs an average of 100 tasks with frequent interruptions.
Even though nurses are ideally suited to take on additional duties as a PAN, many find it is a challenge to provide patients with quality care in today’s healthcare setting. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) published Keeping Patients Safe: Transforming the Work Environment of Nurses in 2004. The report states, “the typical work environment of nurses is characterized by many serious threats to patient safety.”