Revisiting the Mean Girls in Our New Advocacy Environment

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The “mean girls” are at it again… or so I’ve been warned by a handful of APHA members.

I’m not sure I agree. But I know one thing for sure: the world of the mean girls has shifted.

Who are the “mean girls?”  I first applied the moniker about three years ago to refer to nurses who believed that no one should be a patient advocate unless he or she is a nurse. I cited instances when a small handful of nurses had bullied other non-nurse advocates both at conferences, and through emails – yes, actively bullied. I outlined once and for all, and very specifically, all the reasons one does not need to be a nurse to be an effective patient advocate. None of that has changed.

Now – because in the past I have been accused of stepping on nurses’ toes when I bring this up (which is never my intention) – let me be perfectly clear. I LOVE nurses! I LOVE their passion and commitment to improving the lives and quality of lives of their patients! I respect nurses for their knowledge, experience, and abilities! And I wholeheartedly support their segue into the world of independent advocacy, with gratitude that they are willing to move to the bright side.

I am also very sure that the “mean girl” concept applies only to a VERY small handful; and certainly not to all nurse-patient-advocates.

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3 More Myths About Building a Successful Independent Advocacy Practice

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We began last week with this series of myths about starting, building, and growing an independent patient advocacy or care management practice.

As a reminder, these myths are based on the comments I’ve heard from advocates who just couldn’t get a practice going – who (sad to say) failed – not because they don’t know how to be good advocates (they do!) but because they tried to get started despite their misconceptions about what it would be like to do so.

This week we have three more of those myths for you to consider, in hopes these misconceptions aren’t yours. Or, if they are, helping you to get past them.

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Top 10 “Best Of” APHA Posts: 2017 in Review

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As 2017 comes to a close, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the blog posts you, my readers, considered to be most worth your reading time. Using post analytics, I’m able to see how many of you have read each of the 44 posts from 2017. Then, accommodating for the fact that some posts have been online for 11+ months, while others were just posted recently, it’s easy to tell which ones captured your imagination (or google’s search interest) to make the assessment.

So here are the top 10 posts (well – OK – I did have trouble counting again), in chronological order, the oldest to the newest:

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Saying No and Refusing to Serve: How to Draw That Line

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If we have learned anything about ourselves in the past 10 days, it’s that there are some people in this world we will never be able to understand or condone. Between the skirmishes in Charlottesville, VA, and the killings in Barcelona and elsewhere; I am reminded that I will NEVER understand hate. I will NEVER condone racism, or neo-nazi-ism, or jihad, or white supremacy – or killing. Period.

As I watched it all unfold through the news, I asked myself, What would I do if one of those people whose attitudes and opinions I find so repugnant asked me to be their advocate?

The answer came easily. I would say no. 

I’m guessing that most of you would want to say NO, too – but would not know how to do so. So I am providing you here with justification and tactics to effectively, legally, and ethically draw a line between who we will, and who we won’t, provide advocacy services to.

Who we WILL work with – is fairly easy.  We’ll serve almost anyone who needs our skill set, in a geography we can serve, who is willing to sign our contract, who can afford to pay us to do that work.

Who we WON’T or DON’T WANT to work with – is more complex, in particular because of our Code of Ethics and Professional Standards, and possibly because of the law.

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The Most Expensive Business to Start

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It’s entirely possible to start a new business on a shoestring. We know this, because every publication worth the paper or website it’s published on tells us so:  Forbes, USA Today, Entrepreneur, all of them.

It requires time, grit, determination, attention to detail, great word-of-mouth – oh – and money! More about this in a minute.

The truth is – the concept of starting a business on a shoestring depends on the size of your shoes and therefore, the length and strength of their laces. It certainly doesn’t hurt if they are made of solid-gold, and you can sell them for your seed money.

If you hear a sarcastic edge in this post, it’s for good reason. It’s born of frustration, the feeling that I’m shouting into an empty cave.  I’ve just heard from one more person who has closed up her advocacy practice because she can’t afford it anymore; this on the heels of a conversation last week with one of our APHA Mentors who asked me, “Why do people think they can start an advocacy practice with no investment? Why do they think they can do it for free?”

Good questions. GREAT questions. And sadly, representative of too much reality and too much failure. And, for today, it means I’m going to try to provide this reality check one more time.

Let’s look at that shoestring for a minute. 

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