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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How Much Do Patient Advocates Charge?

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If someone asked me what question I am asked most frequently, I’d tell them the answer is some variation of this family of questions:

  • How much do advocates charge for their services?
  • What is the hourly rate for patient advocates?
  • How much do patient advocates make?
  • How much money do patient advocates get paid?
  • What is the average amount a patient advocate charges?

We’ll begin by answering these questions with a question (bad form, but it makes our point…)

  • How much does it cost to take a vacation?
  • What does it cost to go to college?
  • How much more can I make if I get a new job?

Think about those questions for a minute: they are actually kind of silly. In fact, there is only ONE answer; the same answer to the questions about advocates, cost, and pricing.

It depends.

So of course, now you want to know… “Depends on what?” There are two answers:

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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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Independent Advocacy’s Three-Legged Stool of Success

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In response to one of the most frequently asked questions I get as the director of The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates – I might be providing an answer you don’t expect.

That’s OK! Because if you don’t expect it, then you may hear it even more clearly than you otherwise would. And that can only be good.

I hear the basic questions in a number of formats:

  • Do I need to get a degree or certificate to be a patient advocate?  Followed by, “what degree” or “what courses do I need to take?”
  • Do I need to be certified to be a patient advocate?  or   Do I need a license to be a patient advocate?
  • I already have a degree in ______  (healthcare management, or nursing, or other system-related credentials) – so do I need to study anything else?

The answer that may surprise you is this:

You aren’t asking the right questions.

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Powerful, Useful, and Beneficial — From HBO’s Vice Media: Patient Advocates Can Save Your Money and Your Life

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In April of this year, patient advocates convened in San Diego for the APHA Summits to mix and mingle, learn, and talk shop…

Joining us was the video crew from HBO’s Vice News, led by producer Amanda Pisetzner – a delightful group of young people, with so much talent and enthusiasm, asking great questions…

They worked in the background during our networking event, and separately they met with two of our advocates, AnnMarie McIlwain, and Karen Vogel, as they conducted their important work. The crew even met with client-patients who AnnMarie and Karen found were willing to discuss their own situations and results…

Bottom line – the most powerful public video we’ve seen, creating a very clear picture of the benefits of independent advocacy and why everyone needs an advocate.

We have arrived! (Note: if you attended the San Diego Summits – you might be in the video!)

I invite you to watch it – and then I’ll share a few steps you can take, too, not just to help boost your own practice, but perhaps to find yourself the featured advocate in a future media activity.

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