Attendees at our recent AdvoConnection Business Institute had a variety of topics and issues they wanted to discuss. Follow up surveys and emails produced even more, including some questions that, over time, will be answered to our best ability. Some will be answered during teleconference call-ins, others through our fabulous advisors, and one or two will be addressed right here on the blog.
However, from the conference, came this question, “If you go through a certificate program, you are not a “certified patient advocate?” Why the certificate program then?”
I believe this question comes from a misunderstanding about why certificate programs exist.
Patient advocacy certificate programs do not exist to create “certified patient advocates.” They exist to fill holes in one’s knowledge.
When considering health advocacy as a career, it’s rare that most have the ability to go into business with no preparation. The key, before they start, is to go through a list of what they still need to learn.
(Originally published in November 2011. Updated November 2019)
One of our APHA members got in touch after a talk he gave to his local Rotary Club. He was disappointed in the turn-out and wondered whether all his effort was worth it. After our brief email conversation, it seemed that sharing some of the important points might be a good idea since you might run into some of his same issues.
Those issues are based on presentation and expectations. So let’s take a look.
Public Speaking, whether there are 5, 50, 500 or 5000 people in attendance is a great form of WOM – that is, word of mouth marketing. In fact, there is no more powerful form of marketing than word-of-mouth. And perhaps the best part – not only is it free (the cost comes in time and effort, but not money) – but sometimes, when you get good enough at it, you might be paid to do public speaking, too. Public speaking may not be word-of-mouth in the traditional sense (someone else’s word from someone else’s mouth) but it’s WOM nonetheless.
Just so you know we pay attention, three important concerns have popped up about the Schueler Compass Award, the award recently announced at the AdvoConnection conference. These concerns came in the form of replies to the survey we took after the conference was over. Since the surveys were completed anonymously, and since comments expressed by one person may represent the thoughts of many, we’ll address them here, publicly, on the blog.
Concern 1: Posted among the survey results about the conference in general was the following:
There was alot of conversation about the KS awards going to 2 members who will be on this board. Most individuals I spoke to felt that if these 2 women were chosen, then they should not have been on the board to choose the candidates.
My response to this question: I had hoped to be very clear during the conference announcement that the first three winners of the award were chosen only by Alexandra Schueler, Ken’s daughter, and me (Trisha Torrey). Our goal for the first winners was to find the people who, first, would illustrate the ideals the award stands for, and second, were good friends of Ken’s. Further, we needed to address the balance of clinical and non-clinical advocates. We hoped they would accept the award, and then agree to serve on the committee to choose subsequent winners.
And that’s exactly what happened. Further, none of the three of them knew they were receiving the award until the day of the conference. If you know any of them well, they were as surprised as anyone was!
Concern 2: From the same comment above, it continued:
It was not clear what the critieria was for the award & it seems to make sense to have the candidate also be someone who does alot of volunteer advocacy… Just some thoughts, but I believe some ideas should go out to the Premium Members… Several expereinced advocates seemed very disturbed by the way this award was handled…
As for whether volunteerism should be included as one of the important attributes: it’s good feedback and by all means, volunteerism can be considered in another year by the committee. For now, if you want to include volunteer advocacy on your application, then do so in either the Empowerment or Community Visibility descriptions.
Concern 3: Time. The original deadline for application for the Schueler Compass Award was December 1, giving advocates about one month to apply. Complaints were made that we aren’t allowing enough time, especially with looming holidays… and because we don’t want someone to miss applying due to time constraints, we are moving the deadline to January 15, 2012, providing an additional six weeks. You may nominate yourself (which is what we expect most of you will do) or you may nominate someone else. The dates for decision-making and subsequent public announcements have been moved forward to accommodate for the new application deadline, too.
I hope this clarifies these concerns. The award is meant to honor both the winners and Ken, too – but another important intent is to set a lofty bar for others to aspire to. Recognizing individuals for their achievement of these high ideals elevates the entire profession.
A tipping point: a dictionary definition will tell you that it means “the crisis stage in a process, when significant change takes place.”
And for patient and health advocacy – we are almost there. Almost at the tipping point.
I first learned the term when I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book by that title, The Tipping Point. I learned that the term is borrowed from epidemiology. That is, when a contagious organism infects enough people to go from just a few sick people, to hundreds, or thousands or millions – the tipping point occurs in that modicum of space or time, when all of a sudden it switches from almost epidemic to being an epidemic. It’s when that threshold is crossed.
Another way of looking at it comes from Hollywood – when an “overnight success” is recognized, even though he or she has been acting, singing or performing for many years prior to that point. But that point between when few know who s/he is and millions recognize his/her name – that’s the tipping point.
Tipping points don’t happen by themselves. They require a set of circumstances that make the tip happen. Gladwell describes types of people who make them happen: connectors, mavens and salesmen, all of whom have a role in helping a concept cross that threshold to become mainstream.
In the past week, two people have shared links that indicate to me that we are almost there. Both are quotations from well-known or well-regarded people who have identified or described what patient advocates are doing, thereby moving us closer to the mainstream. These aren’t people who are involved in patient advocacy, meaning these quotations are in no way self-serving. They are observational – and powerful.
The first AdvoConnection Business Institute is behind us – a grand learning time was had by all.
During the conference, the establishment of the H. Kenneth Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award was announced by our “mystery” keynote speaker – Alexandra Schueler, Ken’s daughter. Her speech was one of the best I have ever heard in any venue, under any circumstances – quite remarkable for a young woman who is just starting out in the world. Alexandra shared her dad with us, what she knew about his work, and his relationship to his work. She evoked laughter and tears, respect and compassion. The audience was truly moved, and even those who had never heard of Ken and his work came to know the most important parts of him and his legacy.
And now we will further Ken’s legacy through this new award, described here.
To punctuate Alexandra’s talk, we announced the first winners of the Schueler Compass Award.
• Ida Schnipper, friend of Ken and owner of Health Champion
These first three winners were chosen by Alexandra and me (Trisha Torrey) because they exemplify the high ideals that laid the foundation for Ken’s work and because they were all good friends and colleagues of Ken’s. Then, because they are the first three, they were also asked to serve on the committee that will choose the winners in future years. Please wish them a hearty congratulations!