• nursing;
  • advocacy

Purpose: To describe how nurses develop the skill of advocating for patients.

Design & Methods: Hermeneutic phenomenological research methods. Both reserve and active U.S. Army nurses who cared for patients associated with the military operation in Bosnia were individually interviewed to gain an understanding of their experiences of advocating for patients and how they developed their advocating practices.

Findings: The constitutive pattern identified was Developing Advocating Practices. The themes comprising this constitutive pattern were Who I Am, Watching Other Nurses Interact with Patients, and Gaining Confidence.

Conclusions: For the nurses in this study, developing advocating practices was more haphazard and situationally dependent than methodically taught in their nursing education programs. Nurses would have a stronger foundation in advocacy if nurse educators consciously teach advocacy and if nurse administrators support new graduates' advocacy in the work environment.