Empower means to, “give authority to.” To give a patient the authority to make his or her own decisions or to empower them is one of the most important things a nurse can do for a patient. In doing this, the nurse is doing an important part of his or her job in giving patients a little bit of ease in a stressful situation.
As I think about this statement, I am flooded with a range of emotions. As a patient in the hospital giving birth, I have experienced both sides of the subject. I had made a birthing plan yet as I was in the hospital in a vulnerable position, at the mercy of the nurse. I was persuaded to change my plan, not because anything was wrong, but because of what the doctor ordered. Feeling that I had no say in my treatment, I felt powerless and that I had no rights. In another instance the nurse told me what the doctor had ordered, but stated that I had the right to refuse anything if I felt was not necessary. At that moment, I felt totally empowered. I was reminded of my rights as a patient and was able to make my own decisions. Because of this nurse, I had the birthing experience I wished to have instead of what the doctor felt was what I needed. I will never forget that nurse and what she did for me as a patient. Informing a patient of his or her rights gives them a sense of empowerment and control in a position where he or she feels powerless. Don’t get me wrong; I do understand that the doctor is the expert and is looking out for the patient’s best interest. However in some situations, everything they do or want to do may not be necessary.
As a result of this experience, I no longer feel vulnerable and powerless as a patient. I continually try to remind family and friends that they have rights and that they can express them at any time as a patient in whatever medical related practice they may be. I feel that all people should know their rights so that they feel safe, confident in themselves and the nurse, and most important, empowered. As a nurse, I will do my best to protect others rights and to inform them of the choices that they have as patients.