Community Advocacy: Treating Everyone with the Dignity They Deserve

"Advocacy means to plead the cause of another. It is based on empathy."

Sally Duncan, RN, BSN

I serve as an RN at a homeless clinic in Colorado. The extremely at-risk population that this clinic serves is accustom to being patronized, humiliated and often left with more questions and unresolved problems than before they even asked for help. In many of these cases I may have only one opportunity to help them. This comes with a lot of responsibility because it may be the only medical care they ever pursue solely based on how I treat them. I try to make a difference in each of their lives. Here is how I accomplish this mission:


I REPEAT back my understanding of what they said in simple language.

I EXPLAIN everything to the patient.

I WRITE it down on paper so they have something to refer back to.

If I have to refer them to another provider I REPRESENT them. I do this by calling, introducing myself, and telling them to expect the patient.

I WRITE A NOTE to the referring provider explaining my concerns and I SIGN it including my credentials for the patient to give the provider. I own it.

Nurses are the most trusted professionals. Prove to your patient that you will plead for their cause.