Justine is a newly hired surgical oncology nurse. During orientation, she learns that on the day of breast surgery, women scheduled for a hookwire procedure are transported by wheelchair to the mammography suite located across the parking area of the main hospital building.

Upon further investigation, she finds that patients are also being taken through the public waiting area during the transport. Justine recognizes that this is a patient privacy violation and an inconvenience to the patient and family. She takes her concerns to her supervisor and is told, “This is the way we have always done it.”

What Would You Do?

Advocacy in health care can happen on many levels. Like Justine, a nurse may take a patient, coworker, or systems concern to the appropriate leadership. Petitioning for healthcare change at a state level, such as writing to a state leader regarding a health-related issue, is also within a nurse’s reach.

Just the thought of healthcare policy reform may seem daunting to oncology nurses. However, nurses can make a difference in various ways, all the way to Capitol Hill. Belonging to a professional nursing organization is a great place to start. Organizations like the American Nursing Association make health advocacy as easy as logging onto the website and sending a form letter to your state representative. ONS has an entire website area dedicated to helping oncology nurses find their way into and through health policy reform. By joining in the healthcare advocacy efforts of national organizations, your voice can be heard.

Justine uses the hospital’s event reporting system to record patient concerns relating to the transport issue, but her advocacy efforts do not stop there. Justine garners the support of other nurses and forms a transport improvement task force. The task force recommendation to use private entrances to take patients to and from the mammography suite using a hospital transport van is adopted. Future solutions include petitioning the hospital foundation for funds needed to purchase a mammography machine for the main hospital building.