A surrogate role in nursing can be defined as a situation where a nurse acts as an advocate or a substitute for a patient's closely related person. Peplau, however, defines the surrogate role in a more comprehensive way that gives the nurse the role of advocating for the patient's welfare and acting, including interpersonal relationships. The role of a nurse has evolved over the years, from simply being a caregiver to becoming a comprehensive health care provider. In the early 1900s, nurses were primarily viewed as assistants to physicians who administered treatments and cared for patients. However, with the advent of modern healthcare practices and the recognition of the importance of nursing in patient care, nurses have become integral members of healthcare teams.
Hildegard Peplau was one of the pioneers of modern nursing who contributed significantly to developing nursing. She was a nurse theorist who believed the relationship between nurses and patients should be based on a therapeutic partnership (Forchuk, 2021). Peplau's theory of interpersonal relations identified several roles that a nurse should adopt when working with patients, including the surrogate role. The surrogate role is defined as a role in which the nurse acts as a substitute for the patient's family, providing emotional support and comfort to the patient in their absence.
The surrogate role is still relevant in nursing practice today. The surrogate role is even more relevant now that healthcare has become more complex with patients wanting effective services from the healthcare providers. The healthcare system has become more complex, and patients are often hospitalized for extended periods. Patients may not have family members or friends available to be with them during their hospitalization. In such cases, the nurse assumes the surrogate role, providing emotional support and comfort to the patient.
Moreover, patients are often anxious and worried about their medical condition and treatment outcome. As a result, they need someone to talk to and express their fears and concerns. The surrogate role enables nurses to emotionally support patients and address their psychological needs (Mudd, Feo, Conroy, & Kitson, 2020). Nurses can help reduce anxiety and stress levels by establishing a therapeutic relationship with patients and improving health outcomes.
The surrogate role is also relevant when patients cannot make decisions for themselves, such as when they are in a coma or have a severe mental illness. In such cases, nurses advocate for the patient, ensuring their rights and wishes are protected. The nurse may consult with the patient's family members and healthcare team to make decisions on the patient's behalf.
The surrogate role is crucial in palliative care and end-of-life care. Patients nearing the end of their lives may feel isolated and alone. The nurse, as a surrogate, can provide emotional support, comfort, and companionship to the patient. The nurse can also assist family members in coping with their loved one's impending death.
In conclusion, the surrogate role defined by Peplau is still relevant in nursing practice today. The healthcare system has become more complex, and patients need emotional support and comfort during hospitalization. The surrogate role enables nurses to establish therapeutic relationships with patients, address their psychological needs, and advocate for patients who cannot make decisions for themselves. Nurses adopting the surrogate role can contribute to improved health outcomes, particularly in palliative and end-of-life care.
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