The final piece of the puzzle for modern nurses, combining attentiveness and communication, is advocacy. "Nurses improve the patient's quality of life, and help the patients have their voices heard as to what's important to them," says Cheryl Stowe, a registered nurse with Partners Health care at Home.
Hudson recalls one student with an elderly patient who appeared disoriented. The nurse learned that the patient spoke to her daughter and sister every day, and she asked them to remind the patient to drink water every time they talked on the phone.
"With just that one little intervention, by just listening to that patient, she found out what the patient did every day," says Hudson. "And just a week later, the patient wasn't confused any longer. And part of that was they found out she was dehydrated."
The advocacy role also includes educating patients about their individual situation, and encouraging them to be assertive in requesting appropriate care.
"We are the patient's advocate," says Karzouniaris. "We try to make them knowledgeable. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile. It's just part of the job. It's inherent. And it doesn't matter how long it takes. The job needs to be completed."