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Nurse Advocate

Nurse advocates assist patients in understanding and making informed choices about the care they receive from physicians, health providers, and health facilities. They meet with patients and their families, then develop a plan based on the person’s medical needs, priorities, concerns, and finances. Nurse advocates answer their questions, address important issues, and intervene on their behalf. While all nurses are considered advocates, nurse advocates undergo additional training to develop their skills and knowledge.

Education Requirements

All nurse specialty areas require an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and successfully pass the state’s NCLEX-RN exam. You do not need an advanced degree for this role.

How to advance/career pathway

Unlike other nurse specialties, there is no single path to become a nurse advocate.  Instead, there are various educational programs that you can take to become certified.  

For example:

Healthcare Liaison Inc - This program teaches advocates how to assist people in navigating the complexities of our healthcare system and give patients the tools to make informed choices. Only medically trained licensed providers may attend this program. Training is completed in nine months, where you learn about ethics, advocacy for complex cases in children, adults or seniors, insurance difficulties, and working with families of different cultures.  

RN Patient Advocates, PLLC - This program is only open to registered nurses and teaches how to become an Independent Nurse Advocate (iRNPA). The program is based in Arizona and has a seven-month online training and a seven-day immersion residential training. Nurses must have five years of clinical nursing experience and an active license.

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Assess patient’s medical needs and concerns
  • Provide education regarding diagnosis and options available
  • Advocate for treatments that benefit the patient
  • Contact insurance companies and other community resources as needed
  • Discuss difficult medical issues e.g., end of life issues with the patient and family
  • Be mindful of cultural differences in designing a plan of care

MOST COMMON CASES

Cases with multi-level problems that may have multiple treatment options with financial or insurance issues. Patients can be of any age or ethnicity.

How to become a

Nurse Advocate

  1. Complete an ADN or BSN program in nursing
  2. Pass the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for your RN license
  3. Have five years of experience working as an RN in a clinical area
  4. Apply, attend and become certified from a health advocacy program

Specialty Groups and Communities

The National Association of Health Advocacy Consultants (ALPHA)

  • Mission: “The goal of the Alliance is to help private, independent advocates start and grow successful practices, to help them maximize their reach, and therefore improve patient outcomes.”
  • Cost: $89-289, annually.
  • Perks: Learn more about patient advocacy as a career, find resources for business planning & more, network with others through the APHA Discussion Forum, and more.

RNPA National Network

  • Mission: To ensure that nurses everywhere are given the respect and support they deserve.
  • Cost: RNPA is a non-profit organization.
  • Perks: Access to community resources and support regarding workplace rights and more.

Patient Advocate Foundation

  • Mission: “Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) is a national 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization which provides case management services and financial aid to Americans with chronic, life threatening and debilitating illnesses.”
  • Cost: PAF is a registered non-profit organization.
  • Perks: Opportunities to volunteer and support their cause; access to information and resources on case management, co-pay relief support, and more.

The Pros

  • Have control over your schedule with holidays and weekends off
  • Autonomy in planning how to meet patient’s needs
  • Satisfaction and appreciation from helping patients and their families

The Cons

  • No longer providing direct patient care so may feel a loss of skills
  • Can be stressful working with patients and families
  • Can be frustrating when unable to get financial coverage to pay for needed treatments
  • Nurse advocacy is not a well defined role so may have less respect
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Personality Traits

  • Good problem solver
  • Excellent listening and teaching skills
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Strong clinical knowledge base
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Average Salary

Nurse Advocates typically make between $43k - $90k, with a median salary of $64,145. Private consultants can earn $100 - $200/hr. For the most up-to-date salary information, check out Salary Explorer.

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Certifications

Healthcare Liaison Inc

  • Certified Health Advocate (CHA)
  • RN Patient Advocates, PLLC.
  • Independent Nurse Advocates (iRNPA)

Patient Advocate Certification Board

  • Board Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA)
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Work Setting

Hospitals, long-term care centers, outpatient care centers, medical-legal departments and as an independent self-employed consultant

Interested in learning more about what it’s like to be a Nurse Advocate? We spoke to one to find out. Read What Does a Nurse Advocate Do?