nurse-359322_1280For the three years I’ve been a student at Penn School of Nursing the resounding refrain I’ve heard has been “be your patient’s advocate.” On top of spending hundreds of hours learning and perfecting the complex science behind patient care, the point most emphasized is that the nurse’s role is to function as support for their patients. We are taught to be keenly aware of all aspects of their lives, to put together the pieces of the puzzle that make up each individual, and to ensure all medical decisions are made with each specific patient in mind.

The concept of being a patient advocate is what I find most compelling about the nursing profession, and has inspired me to follow an advocacy path. That passion brought me to intern at CreakyJoints and their parent organization, Global Healthy Living Foundation. During my time here I’ve gained invaluable real life advocacy experience by working within the healthcare system and learning how to amplify patient voices.

Being Your Patients’ Advocate

nursing rheumatology

Susanna Buff speaks with a rheumatology nurse

The combination of medical science, public policy, and advocacy in patient care was perfectly blended at the Rheumatology Nurses Society conference. It was amazing to see a large group of nurses come together to develop their education in order to become the best resources possible for their patients.  The conversation was centered around the patient- from lectures on the latest scientific updates in the fields of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and other rheumatologic diseases to meal time talks about which practices worked best. Nurses know they need to function as a patient voice, and I saw first hand how they respected and honored the experiences of patients themselves.

In all medical fields the patient is at the center, but in rheumatologic nursing the importance of the patient relationship cannot be more stressed. When fighting  debilitating autoimmune conditions the main goal is to give the patient back their life. Rheumatology nurses understand that they need to truly know their patients in order to do this successfully. It was inspiring to see how dearly they valued the patient relationship, how hard they worked to learn the best ways to connect with their patients and how much they considered their patients’ perspectives in care. I was blown away to spend an entire conference surrounded by people who dedicated their lives to providing the best care possible to their patients. I’m grateful to have had the chance to attend, and to leave with even more excitement for my future career as a nurse.

Susanna Buff for CreakyU