You have dreamed about becoming a private health /patient advocate or care manager for a while. You know you can do it, you know you are a good advocate, your heart really WANTS to change careers to advocacy, you know people need help with their medical system challenges…
Plus everyone you know thinks it’s a great idea! They all tell you – OMG – there is such a huge need!
Maybe you have helped friends and family members over the years, or you have been a doctor or nurse for decades. (I often hear, “I’ve been an advocate all my life. Now I just want to get paid for it!”)
But something, maybe not clearly defined, is holding you back. Mostly it’s because you know you would have to start your own business to be truly independent (there’s the Allegiance Factor, after all)… and you’re not sure you’ve got the chops to do that. You just can’t seem to make that leap from being a volunteer who steps in to help, to being a professional, privately-paid, patient advocate, navigator, or care manager in your own private patient advocacy practice.
You’re just stuck. Your heart is THERE! But your brain won’t let you move forward. Sound familiar?
Many of you, despite the fact that you have developed outstanding patient advocacy skills, will not succeed as independent private advocates, because you don’t act on one important distinction.
Doesn’t seem right or fair, does it?
So what’s that distinction? Let’s try a metaphor:
Colleen has always loved houses, and has been the admin in a real estate company for almost 30 years. She has handled details upon details for others – from seller contracts to purchaser contracts, from hiring inspectors, to setting and retrieving signs on a property’s front yard. She knows her stuff, she’s done it all, she’s seen it all, and now she’s decided she wants to do real estate work on her own. So Colleen earns her sales and brokers licenses, quits her job, and goes into business for herself.
Colleen does everything she thinks she’s supposed to do to be successful. She makes up business cards and some flyers. She builds a website. She lets everyone in her neighborhood and her church know that she’s got decades of real estate experience, and now she’s ready to help them list or buy a house. Her phone rings on occasion, but… The business just doesn’t come in to support her well enough. Eventually she is forced to take a part time job so she can pay some of her bills. But, of course, if people call her for help right away and she’s at her job, she misses the opportunity.
Six months later, Colleen is forced to give up her dream of being in business for herself, doing the real estate work she is passionate about. She can’t support herself. Not enough people call her. But she just doesn’t understand it – Colleen can’t figure out why she can’t build a business.
What Colleen missed, the reason she can’t succeed, is the same reason many of you who read this will go out of business, too. Until you recognize it and act on it, you are doomed to fail (unless, of course, you win the lottery and can be a patient advocate for free, with no worry about income….)
Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season are right around the corner. Smart health and patient advocates and care managers can find this season to be a golden opportunity to expand their reach in many positive ways.
The holidays are family times. Generations come together. Inevitably someone is facing a health and/or health system challenge. Aunt Joan has a new cancer diagnosis and hasn’t even considered a second opinion. Dad needs help sorting out his meds, while daughter Francine questions about whether he’s taking the right drugs at the right times, or whether the prescriptions he’s taking are causing some new symptoms. Cousin Jack is drowning in medical debt; he has no idea know how to fight a denied claim, or choose the right health insurance plan. Uncle Victor, age 78, doesn’t have a DNR or a will because he doesn’t understand their importance.
These are the times family members begin to worry – and wonder who can help out.
The answer is YOU – a friend, a neighbor, a fellow church or temple congregant. YOU can help them. They probably just don’t know that.
There are a few ways you can quite simply, and gently let them know that you are available should the need arise. Here are some ideas for getting the word out: