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According to Peplau, the nurse is the point of focus in regard to the surrogate role. Peplau stated that the nurse is supposed to function as an advocate/substitute for another person. The person who is represented by the nurse is to be well-known to the client for the surrogate role to evade possible hitches. Such persons include parents, siblings, relatives, teachers or friends (Forchuk, 2021). It is possible to argue that Peplau intended to explain the role as a simple, temporary and volunteered role where nurses stand in for other people, who automatically have to be their patients. With this assertion, it is thus important to explore the surrogate role to establish whether Peplau’s definition is relevant to nursing practice as currently experienced.
The concept of the surrogate role is still relevant in today’s practice, though what happens in the surrogate role can be explained to be something different than what Peplau intended to mean. Today, when the term “surrogate” is mentioned, several factors have to be included. The factors are inclusive of money and contracts that the surrogate has to sign before assuming surrogacy. The fact that surrogates act as substitutes for other human beings retains the initial meaning of the surrogate role, hence the previous assertion that the concept still exists.
On the other hand, the intended purpose of “the surrogate role” has changed in the current nursing practice. Peplau stated that nurses should be the surrogates, but currently, the “surrogate role” has extended to even unknown people, who could even be in different continents from the client. Additionally, binding contracts that have to include payment in installments to the individual playing the surrogate role have to be signed (Crockin, Edmonds & Altman, 2020). Therefore, the initial idea that surrogates should volunteer to stand on behalf of others is cancelled by the fact that in order to agree to assume the role, payments have to be included. Hence, it would be correct to argue that the surrogate role in current nursing practice has become a business opportunity rather than a chance to serve through advocacy and representation.
Peplau’s definition of the surrogate role and the comparison of that definition with the current healthcare practice is an example of how concepts and theories conceptualized in past centuries may become obsolete with time (Peterson & Bredow, 2019). With this knowledge, it is therefore critical that nurse theorists and philosophers examine theories, models and assertions from the past to determine their relevance in nursing. Where there exists proof of obsolescence, revisions, or total removal of frameworks should be considered.
The role of the surrogate is not one that is often mentioned in recent nursing practice literature. Because of this, it can diminish the value or importance of this role, at least from the perspective of the nurse. In addition to this, it could prevent the nurses from being as aware of up to date practice approaches, techniques, areas of information, applications to practice, and problem solving that need to exist with regards to surrogacy. If there are deficiencies in these areas, it can make it harder, if not impossible, for the nurse to connect with a patient who is a surrogate. This can decrease the quality of communications, interactions, and connections between the nurse and the surrogates.
The role that is defined by Peplau identifies that the role is made up of several parts or entities. Within Peplau’s theory, the nurse plays the role of the counselor, leader, teacher or educator, stranger, and surrogate (Suhariyanto & Ungsianik, 2017). This multi-faceted approach to the nursing practice shows just how much of an integral part the nurse plays in the health care process and within the interactions with the patients. Because of this, there is a need for nurses to be trained on all these facets of nursing so that the nurse can be the most effective. Also, because the role of the nurse as defined or described by Peplau is very interconnected with the patients on many different levels, there is a need for nurses to have interpersonal relations or communications training. The nurses need to understand the most effective ways to communicate and connect with patients if they are going to be the most effective in all of the identified facets of the nursing practice. With the right training in these areas, the nurses can thrive in all facets of nursing and in the nursing practice as a whole (Wasaya et al., 2021).
This role, as defined by Peplau, is relevant to nursing practice as currently experienced. This is the case because there is always room for improvement when it comes to connecting with patients. in the time of the COVID pandemic, being able to connect with patients and build trusting relationships with them is key. These relationships can help more insightful data to be collected and integrated into the diagnosis and treatment plan creation phases of health care.
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