Assessing Value: The Cost of Meat and Potatoes

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An Open Letter to an Advocate Who Questions Her APHA Membership

Received last week from Esther (not her real name):

If you would please clarify a few things I’d really appreciate it.It’s time for my PACE membership to renew and I am trying to decide whether to spend that money.

I want to have my name listed in your directory in the future, but your Premium membership is quite out of my budget. . Do you not offer beginner discounts?

Secondly, I currently am an unemployed family caregiver and have no income. A basic renewal at $49, which is more in my budget, is only for 6 months time, why not a full year? And it really lacks access to the meat and potatoes of your site which would most benefit me starting out in this line of service.

So as you may have gathered, I’m at a crossroads for renewing at this point in time. I’m trying to understand the real value in APHA membership for me. Perhaps you have other financial options for people in my situation?

I do look forward to hearing from you.

My reply to Esther:

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What Do You Want to Learn?

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While many independent advocates and care managers spent their holiday time either celebrating, spending time with their families, and/or putting out fires for clients…  I’ve been right here at my desk during the holidays, preparing for THE LAUNCH.

It’s been SUCH a long time coming…many years, really. Certainly not because the will wasn’t there, nor because the technology wasn’t available.

I plead only the lack of enough hours in my days along with a few conflicting priorities (like completing the launch of patient advocate certification, and rebuilding the AdvoConnection profiles site, and moving 1200 miles!)  Those aren’t excuses. They were realities.

But now these new efforts have (finally!) moved to the TOP of my to-do list…  all to the benefit of advocates and care managers who want to improve their knowledge and skills in the many areas of building successful practices…

So what required so much effort?

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Like Learning to Ride Your Bike…

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In an email conversation with one of our APHA mentors last week, a point that is so often lacking in the understanding of an independent advocacy practice was made:  That it usually takes 3 to 5 years to know if someone will be a successful business owner, advocacy included.

That so many advocates quit before they get there, never giving themselves a chance, really. They start out thinking it will be easy because, afterall, many been advocates for decades in previous careers…  just a simple switch to self-employment, right?

When they finally understand that the first few years are more about business than advocacy, it’s a rude awakening. When that lightbulb goes off, when they begin to understand it’s about running a business, they begin to panic.  That’s when I hear:

But I’ve never done this before!

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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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