Where Survivor (TV) Meets a New Advocacy Practice

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Survivor – Jeff Probst and Company (and company and company and company!)  Currently in its 37th season, I’ve watched probably 30 of those seasons. I’m more about the psychology, head games, and strategy. My husband is more about the physical endurance. In total we usually disagree on who we think should win any given season (the one person who never gets voted off the island!) but we both agree that the person who wins deserves to because they have gone into the game with a strategy, implemented it, and as a result, “survived.”

As I watched last week’s Survivor episode (Season 37, Episode 6) I realized that there are at least two strategic aspects of the game of Survivor that become lessons for starting an advocacy practice, both of which I could share with you to help you better understand how they work for launching and growing an advocacy practice:

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Successes, Failures, and My Biggest Surprise

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12 years. While on the one hand, 12 years seems like a looong time, on the other hand, it has gone by in the blink of an eye.

I’m referring to the 12 years I’ve focused my professional life on building the profession of independent health and patient advocacy, having made the decision in 2007 to begin building an online presence for advocates through the AdvoConnection Directory website. It eventually launched in Fall 2009* and evolved to become The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates.

So I’ve been giving thought to what I consider to be our biggest successes, biggest failures, and biggest surprises during this time, and that’s what I’m sharing with you today. These are my own opinion, of course!  You might make other choices. See what you think:

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Licensed, Certified, Uppercase, lowercase: Where Are You?

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Andrea is confused, and if Andrea is confused, others among you are, too. She’s just the one who asked. (You might want to thank her!)

Andrea posted a comment on a previous APHA Blog post called Revisiting the Mean Girls in Our New Advocacy Environment asking me to follow up now that we have certification for Patient Advocates.  Her confusion (excerpted, but you can read it all here):

In my opinion, the PACB certification does not nullify or restrict a state license in nursing. It feels like these two knowledge bases go hand in hand. I cannot find any information on your caution to RNs to “specifically NOT promote their work as being nurse-related, and not to cross the line”. I see nothing in the linked ethics or competencies that restricts any kind of nursing interventions other than prescribing medications, and actual medical diagnoses. 

In other words, I believe she is asking, “Why can’t I be a nurse and a patient advocate, too?”

And the answer is…. (drumroll please….)

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When Is an Advocate Not an Advocate?

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Twice in the past week, I heard from people whose APHA memberships expired, explaining why they didn’t renew. In both cases excuses in the form of complaints about their memberships were made. A little bit of research turned up the facts that those complaints were at least misguided. I responded to each of them about their frustrations. In both cases, they felt insulted.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I receive criticism and suggestions on a regular basis, sometimes including good, usable, feedback. I’m always appreciative of constructive feedback and ideas even if it’s in the form of criticism. That’s how we improve the benefits APHA offers.

Further, I recognize there are many reasons someone might not want to renew a membership. Sometimes health challenges have gotten in the way. Sometimes someone just decides independent advocacy wasn’t a good fit for them. Most of the time I hear nothing at all.

But that’s not what these exchanges were. In both cases they were making excuses by using APHA membership as the whipping post. Not kosher.

Where have they been for the past year?  Why did they wait until their memberships expired to complain? I wonder how they think they can be good advocates for other people if they don’t even advocate for themselves?

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B*tching and Moaning – Therapeutic and Educational

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It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s always an eyeopener and usually quite unsettling.

When done well, and handled well, it can turn out to be therapeutic, and has the potential for great opportunity.

I’m talking about moaning, groaning, complaining and yes – b*tching. Whether it’s a client complaining about an advocate, or the other way around, sometimes it’s fair and understandable, sometimes not. Sometimes it can escalate. Other times it can be diffused.

In all cases we can learn from complaints. So let’s take a look.

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