All We Really Need to Know About Being Good Advocates We Learned in Kindergarten

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As children across the US and Canada start kindergarten this time of the year, I’m reminded of Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, a classic, published more than 30 years ago.

I’ve actually written about advocates and the kindergarten principles before, years ago, as applied to some real negativity we were experiencing as a profession then. But today’s piece is updated, much more positive, and contains some further advice not shared then.

So much of this kindergarten wisdom is appropriate to our successful running of an independent advocacy or care management practice – no matter whether it’s back-to-school time or not.

So, with a nod to author Fulghum, let’s review.

1. Be Respectful and Expect to Be Respected in Return

This is 360o advice: be respectful of others, and expect them to return the same. Now, you might respond “Yeah… Duh! Of course!” but I’m constantly amazed at the stories I hear about disrespect in relation to advocacy.  I’ve heard about:

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What Biases Don’t YOU Recognize?

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As advocates, we all quickly become familiar with, and embrace, and share with clients, our Code of Ethics.*

Of course, there are many tenets to the code, but primary among them is the very specific statement and belief that while acting as a professional patient advocate, we will never make decisions for our clients. We work to help them make their own decisions, we respect the decisions they make, and we assist them to be sure they are carried out.

I’m sure, as you read that statement, you are nodding your head in agreement. YOU would never violate that tenet, would you?  You are 100% committed to making sure your clients are making all their own decisions, even in difficult times.

And yet…

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The Momma Test

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Over the years, one of my favorite things to do has been to work with / speak to / address college students. They are young, aren’t yet set in their ways, still hope to save the world, are naive to the “follow the money” aspects of healthcare and, honestly, it’s just plain fun.

Last week I had the privilege of participating in an ethics debate for a well-known and respected university in a course called Controversies in Healthcare (medical, legal, and bio ethics), to a combination group of law students and medical students, on the topic of independent advocacy – vs – hospital advocacy. My co-debater was the Director of Ombudsman at a very well-known and respected hospital system.

The idea, since it was a “controversies” class, was that we were supposed to argue that our own solutions were the better solutions, and that the opposing solution was not a good choice.

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Because Greetings Should Be All About Them

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Honestly, I’m tired of the argument.

I live and work in Florida where you would think it was some sort of national disgrace to wish someone “Happy Holidays”. As if somehow the failure to wish a “Merry Christmas” has been co-opted by political correctness as a personal insult to them.

In my (not so) humble opinion, it has gotten worse in the last couple of years. I chalk that up to the facts that (1) I didn’t live in Florida until about two years ago (and therefore heard far less vitriol than seems to be standard fare here) and (2) that we now live in a society where too many of our political leaders are focused solely on improving their own lives, incomes, and status, and not those of their constituents, as in, “It’s all about me!”

I’m just sick of it! Here’s why:

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Serving One’s Country as a Healthcare Soldier

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Over the holiday weekend – Memorial Day Weekend – I pondered the sacrifices soldiers have made for our country. I expect you did, too.

I’m married to a retired soldier. My husband spent 20 years in the US Air Force during the VietNam War era. I’m so very, very proud of him and his service. Patriotic holidays have a special meaning to us because, well, he lived it. (I was not married to him in those years.) We are grateful to, and honor those who served, including those who lost their lives.

All this pondering, and the tendency of my mind to wander (!), got me thinking about a different form of service, too.

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