Independent Professional Nursing Role Incorporates Functional and Integrative Medicine Into Patient-Centered Advocacy

Marianne was just 69 years old when her family was told to make arrangements for her long-term skilled nursing care.  Before a ruptured aneurysm altered her life, Marianne was a vital community activist, artist, traveler, and grandmother of five.  Marianne’s daughter could not accept that “there was nothing more that could be done,” that her mother’s condition had “plateaued,” and contacted an RN Patient Advocate to intervene.  Today Marianne lives at home, is traveling again, attending social events, and enjoying her grandchildren.

Independent RN Patient Advocates (iRNPAs) ask those questions that their clients do not know how to ask, and work directly and collaboratively within all branches of the medical community to find the answers.  On behalf of those that they serve, iRNPAs advocate for improved therapeutic approaches, facilitate communication between providers and patients, and empower people in their own healthcare.  Marianne’s support involved working with physicians to alter the pharmaceutical approach and to enhance the nutritional/PT/OT therapies.  The therapy integrated acupuncture and music therapy,  more appropriate placement, and cognitive rehab.  If not for the determination and industry of an RN Patient Advocate, none of this was even considered.

RN Patient Advocates’ Scope of Practice:


Our mission is to raise the level of health literacy in the community, and well as individuals’ engagement in their own heath care.   Through educational programs offered to a wide range of social, business, and medical organizations, we teach Functional and Integrative Medicine precepts and open the door to enhanced understanding of the rapidly expanding opportunities for wellness available today.  Through educational and outreach efforts in the community, RN Patient Advocates create dynamic networks of conventional and integrative medical practitioners, expanding access to information and referrals to all sectors of the health community.


– Listen to each individual’s whole story, guided by the Functional Medicine heuristic, to create the Advocacy Plan: an evolving therapeutic approach strategy working collaboratively with Allopathic, Functional and Integrative physicians and practitioners, including MDs, DOs, and NDs.

– Ensure the integrity and full scope of the diagnostic process

– Research the wide range of therapeutic options available in Functional, Integrative and Allopathic medicine paradigms

– Educate and guide people through the decision-making process utilizing motivational interviewing/coaching strategies.  Education is the central tenet of our practice in all its community settings.

– Ensure people’s knowledge of and access to all appropriate physicians, nutritionists, and Integrative Medicine therapists

– Facilitate communication and coordinate therapies within this dynamic team approach to individual wellness.

– Create the MEDiKEY – The foundation of the iRNPA process, this forensic approach to a medical time line utilizes the individual’s complete medical history (going back as far as 40 years in some cases). The information is analyzed to identify clinically significant diagnostic trends, lab trends, and outlier events; as well as gaps in care.  This chronology also includes Areas of Investigation: themes of inquiry that become palpable when studying the entire scope of an individual’s story and history.  This analytical synopsis is shared with the medical team, becoming an essential component to a physician’s comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic decisions for a personalized treatment plan (in collaboration with the RN Patient Advocate.)

Beginning in 2002, this new role in professional nursing has emerged. This vital practice utilizes the outcome derived Advocacy Process to advocate, educate and guide people through the fractured medical system.  There are now RN Patient Advocates in 23 states developing their practices.  RN Patient Advocates, PLLC, is partnered with the University of Arizona College of Nursing in providing the national RN Patient Advocate Learning Intensive to prepare qualified clinical RNs nationally for this leading edge practice model.

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