Since the first of the year, we’ve had a record number of applications for membership in the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates (APHA), in particular those who want to be included in the AdvoConnection Directory.
You may know that we have two kinds of memberships: PACE memberships for those who are just beginning to plan for a private advocacy practice (and who do not appear in the directory.) And Premium or DO memberships for those who are found in the directory by patients or caregivers who are looking for help.
It may surprise you to know, and it certainly ticked off a few of them to be told, that just because someone applies for a directory membership doesn’t mean they will be accepted. (All PACE members are accepted, but not all Premium or DO applications are.) One rejected applicant’s reaction to that reality was, well, let’s just say that if my monitor could have caught fire, it would have!
Let me explain…
When someone applies for a directory membership in APHA, we actually review those applications based on this standard: The applicant must have the knowledge and ability to help the patients or caregivers who find them in the directory. That means they must have experience in their service area(s), must be in business (not just a volunteer, or someone who thinks they’d like to give advocacy a try to see if it will work), and must show easy-to-find evidence of both.
When we reviewed that application that was rejected, we just didn’t find that evidence. And so, as we do for each application that is rejected, we politely described our search for evidence, told her what we are looking for, and then provided alternatives (show us the evidence, or apply to be a PACE member.)
Whew! You’d think we had asked for her first born child. Her reply: that we had the NERVE to ask for such evidence! That it was none of our business! That we had NO RIGHT to reject her application! And that if she was willing to pay for the listing, why would we care what she does with it?
Aha… and therein lies the rub.
We do care what she does with it! We do care that everyone who is listed in the directory is ready and able to help the people who might hire them. We do care that no patient will ever find someone in the directory who isn’t really who he or she says they are. Those of you who know me, and my story and background, know why this is so important.
And, of course, that yes – we DO have a right to reject her application. It even says so right on the application!
We aren’t like the yellow pages where anyone who wants to pay for a listing can have one. We are more like an exclusive club where you apply and must meet our criteria. The AdvoConnection Directory has established an excellent reputation for being the go-to directory, arranged by location and services, where people can find the help they need. It’s not about paying for a listing. It’s about meeting and exceeding a standard.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We’d love to be able to offer everyone who applies for the directory a membership in this “exclusive” club! The more robust our directory, the better chance patients will find the help they need, especially in areas of the United States or Canada where few or no advocates are currently available.
But the truth is, the minute we fall down on the job of vetting applicants, is the minute a patient or caregiver will find someone who takes their money but doesn’t deliver the service they need. And of course, by the time someone even finds the directory as a resource, they are already in some sort of desperate straits. We aren’t going to compound their problems further if we can help it. (That ‘if we can help it” is important. We aren’t perfect, but we do try our best.)
In case you are interested, we accept only about 60% of directory applicants. It’s not an easy club to join.
I share this with you all today for two reasons: first, because I want the people who ARE listed in the AdvoConnection Directory to understand the privilege of being there – that they have attained a certain level of respect and recognition by “making it.”
And second, so that the next time someone wants to burn up my monitor by second guessing our decision to exclude them, I’ll have this post to point them to as further explanation of what we expect from them.
Have you achieved the ability to be included? If so, and if you hope to grow your practice, or maintain the optimum number of clients to work with, then you belong in the AdvoConnection Directory. The best advocates available in the United States and Canada are members of the Alliance, and you should be, too. Here’s more information.
If you aren’t quite there, then let us help you get there. PACE memberships are built with you in mind, to help you establish, expand and grow the experience you need to be in the directory. Why not join us?
We want you to be as “in” as you can be. It’s all about helping patients get what they need.
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