The surrogate role in nursing refers to the nurse’s ability to temporarily stand in as a substitute for a patient’s family or support system.

Surrogate role in nursing

The surrogate role in nursing refers to the nurse’s ability to temporarily stand in as a substitute for a patient’s family or support system. Hildegard Peplau initially introduced this role in the mid-20th century as a part of her theory of interpersonal relations in nursing. However, despite its early prominence, the surrogate role is not frequently mentioned in recent nursing practice literature. This raises the question of whether the surrogate function, as stated by Peplau, is still relevant to nursing practice today.

The idea that nursing is an interpersonal process that involves building relationships with patients is central to Peplau’s theory. Peplau saw the surrogate role as a critical component of this process because it allows the nurse to put themselves in the patient’s shoes, understand their point of view, and provide care tailored to their specific needs (Forchuk, 2021). A surrogate is one of the four roles a nurse can play in a therapeutic relationship with a patient. Counselor, teacher, and leader are the other roles. Advocating for the patient, providing emotional support, and assisting them in navigating the complexities of the healthcare system are all part of the surrogate function.

While the surrogate function is not explicitly discussed in current nursing practice literature, it is still an essential part of nursing practice. Indeed, many of modern nursing’s core competencies, such as patient-centered care, advocacy, and empathy, are rooted in the surrogate role. Nurses must still be able to connect with their patients, understand their perspectives, and provide care that is tailored to their specific needs (Wasaya et al., 2021). The surrogate role is often assumed to be part of the nurse’s overall role in providing emotional support and holistic care to patients, which is why it is not frequently mentioned in recent nursing literature.

Furthermore, the challenges that modern healthcare systems face have only emphasized the importance of the surrogate role. Patients are more likely to have complex and multifaceted healthcare needs as chronic diseases become more prevalent and the population ages (Pecanac & King, 2019). Nurses must be able to act as surrogates for patients, guiding them through the complexities and ensuring that they receive the care and support they require.

In conclusion, while the surrogate role may not be frequently mentioned in recent nursing literature, it remains a relevant and important aspect of nursing practice today. As patients often do not have the same level of support from family and friends as they may have had in the past, nurses may need to take on the surrogate role more frequently and for longer periods of time. By providing emotional support and serving as a substitute family member, nurses can help fill the social support gap for patients and improve their overall health outcomes. However, nurses must also prioritize their well-being and set boundaries to avoid burnout.

 

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