Evaluation of Experiences as a Professional Nurse in Addressing Health Disparities
As a professional nurse, my experiences have provided me with the opportunity to witness firsthand the existence of health disparities among patients. These disparities, often influenced by socio-economic factors, contribute to differences in health outcomes and access to healthcare services. In this evaluation, I will reflect on a patient experience where I encountered a health disparity that negatively impacted the patient’s health. Additionally, I will analyze the situation in hindsight to identify any missed opportunities for intervention and discuss what actions I would take differently should a similar situation arise in the future.
Patient Experience and Health Disparity:
During my clinical placement in a community hospital, I encountered a patient named Mr. Johnson, a middle-aged man with a low socio-economic background. He presented with poorly managed type 2 diabetes, which had led to complications requiring hospitalization. Mr. Johnson lacked health insurance and had limited financial resources which severely hindered his ability to afford regular medications, healthy food options, and diabetes management supplies. These circumstances placed him at a higher risk for health disparities compared to individuals with better access to resources and healthcare.
Missed Opportunity for Intervention:
In hindsight, there was an opportunity for me to act and potentially help eliminate the health disparity affecting Mr. Johnson’s health. Despite recognizing the importance of comprehensive diabetes management, I did not fully utilize the resources available to address the social determinants of Mr. Johnson’s health and facilitate access to affordable healthcare options. Instead, my focus was primarily on providing direct medical interventions, such as medication administration and monitoring blood glucose levels, rather than exploring potential solutions to address his underlying health disparity.
One key missed opportunity was my failure to connect Mr. Johnson with the hospital’s social work department. Social workers are equipped to assess patients’ socio-economic circumstances and provide assistance in navigating available community resources, including financial assistance programs, affordable medication options, and access to diabetes self-management education. By not involving a social worker in Mr. Johnson’s care, I overlooked the potential positive impact they could have had in improving his health outcomes and addressing health disparities.
Additionally, I did not advocate for Mr. Johnson in terms of discussing his financial constraints with the healthcare team. By neglecting to raise awareness of his financial limitations, I missed an opportunity to collaborate with the interdisciplinary team members, including the attending physician and hospital administrators, to explore alternative strategies for providing comprehensive care to patients like Mr. Johnson who face financial constraints.
Actions to Take Differently in Future Situations:
Moving forward, encountering a similar situation would prompt me to consider the following actions to address health disparities effectively:
1. Enhance Knowledge and Awareness: It is crucial to continuously educate oneself about health disparities and their impact on patient outcomes. This includes a thorough understanding of socio-economic factors that contribute to disparities, healthcare policies, and available resources to overcome these barriers. A broader knowledge base will enable me to identify health disparities early on and prioritize interventions to address them.
2. Collaborate with Interdisciplinary Team: Recognizing that addressing health disparities requires a multi-faceted approach, I would actively engage with the interdisciplinary team, including social workers, case managers, and patient advocates. Collaborating with these professionals can provide a more comprehensive understanding of patients’ socio-economic circumstances and help identify strategies to address their specific needs. By involving the team, we can collectively develop a tailored care plan that addresses health disparities and increases access to appropriate resources for patients in similar situations.
3. Advocate for Patient’s Needs: To be a proactive advocate for patients facing health disparities, I must proactively communicate with the healthcare team regarding any patient-specific challenges related to socio-economic factors. By providing the necessary context and information, I can ensure that the team has a holistic understanding of the patient’s situation, enabling them to develop appropriate strategies to mitigate health disparities and improve overall care.
4. Utilize Available Resources: It is essential to tap into the available resources within the healthcare institution and community to address health disparities effectively. This may involve connecting patients with social workers, exploring financial assistance programs, or partnering with local organizations that focus on health equity. By maximizing the use of these resources, healthcare professionals can bridge the gap in access to care and provide comprehensive services to patients affected by health disparities.
Reflecting on past experiences as a professional nurse, it is evident that health disparities significantly influence patients’ health outcomes. The case of Mr. Johnson serves as a valuable lesson, highlighting the importance of recognizing and actively addressing health disparities as part of nursing practice. By enhancing knowledge and