In a profession where others' health and well-being are priority, there leaves room for neglect of those who are delegated to care for these people. As a professional nurse, there are many obstacles that arise and affect the care provided to a patient, as well as the livelihood of the nurse. The current deteriorating and unsafe staffing conditions in hospitals and other institutions prompts workplace advocacy as the universally appropriate concept for maintaining professional nursing practice. The Arkansas Nurses Association and the Louisiana State Nurses Association define workplace advocacy as a planned, organized system of services and resources designed to support the professional nurse in the workplace (White Paper on Workplace Advocacy, 1997). It provides nurses with the knowledge and skills to use a range of strategies to ensure their voice and involvement in nursing practice and workplace decisions. "The ethical norms of the profession, Standards of Clinical Nursing Practice, and nurse practice acts validate the nurse's professional obligation to provide quality care and protect clients and families" as stated by the Arkansas Nurses Association and the Louisiana State Nurses Association in the White Paper on Workplace Advocacy (1997).
Workplace Advocacy educates and empowers nurses to help make changes in the workplace that will enhance the quality of their work environment (White Paper on Workplace Advocacy, 1997). It is intended to facilitate strategies for employers, nurses, and healthcare providers to work collectively toward safe, quality, cost-effective client care. According to the Center for American Nurses (2006), in order to confront these issues, nurses must have a clear vision of their responsibilities in the workplace and the personal, professional, and legal information to ensure the well-being of themselves and their patients. Workplace issues are of great concern to the professional nurse due to the direct impact on the quality care and safety of a patient. History
The American Nurses Association warrants that workplace advocacy is its central mission. In 2000, ANA's House of Delegates established the Commission on Workplace Advocacy (Center for American Nurses, 2006). This commission consisted of nine members who were delegated to establish an effective workplace advocacy program. The resultant program was the Center for American Nurses. This professional association, incorporated in August 2003, states that its vision is "to be recognized as the voice of workforce advocacy for professional nurses by contributing to the creation of healthy workplaces that value and respect the contributions of nurses."
In an effort to promote workplace advocacy aims, nurses adopted the concept of collective bargaining. Catalano (2006) defines collective bargaining as the uniting of employees for the purpose of increasing their ability to influence their employer and to improve working conditions. This concept allows nurses to organize unions, which become their voice. Prior to the adoption of the collective bargaining concept in the health-care setting, there were alternative solutions. During the years following World War II, ANA had not yet engaged in collective bargaining and this presented a tremendous problem. Due to the poor working conditions and inadequate pay, there was a resultant shortage in the number of nurses available (Budd, Patton, & Warino, 2004). According to Budd (2004), at the 1946 ANA Convention, an economic and general welfare program was implemented. The program set guidelines for the State Nurses Associations (SNAs) to promote economic security and engage in collective bargaining (Budd, 2004). In 1965, mass resignations of nurses at an Ohio hospital were the negotiating factors for nurses faced with issues that dealt with staffing, scheduling, decision-making, wages, and benefits (Budd, 2004). After thirteen days of negotiating, the nurses returned to work. Events of...