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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Polishing Our Advocacy Rocks

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I’ve just returned from Newark where we held the second of our 2018 APHA Summits Networking Events. About 30 advocates attended, with backgrounds ranging from leaders (long-time advocates who have built successful advocacy businesses) through a handful of folks who are just getting started and who arrived as sponges intending to absorb everything they could.

The experience was, in a word, magical. The energy in the room was electric.There was a constant buzz and hum of shared ideas and experiences. There were the usual words of advice that everyone has read or heard in the past, mixed with some surprises when the leaders were asked, “What do you wish you had known when you started your new practice that you didn’t know then?”

There was laughter, there were stories, there was joy, there were “on no!” moments, and there were “aha!” moments, and there was, as attendees departed, a sense of companionship, collaboration, and growing confidence, as in “I got this.”

I came away from this experience as I did from the networking experience in San Diego last month, with a stronger belief than before that private, independent advocacy is maturing, and that the phrase “paying it forward” is alive and well.

This is a change, by the way. A huge one, worth noting here, because I haven’t always been confident in that notion.

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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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Announcing: A Big Change for Admission to the AdvoConnection Directory

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Many readers of this blog are familiar with, or are already listed in the AdvoConnection Directory. It’s THE place to be for private, professional, independent advocates who want to be found and hired by patients or caregivers who need them. It’s the largest, and the only “vetted” directory that exists for advocates.

We”re announcing today a big change to what it takes to be listed in the directory which will affect almost everyone who has given thought to being included in the directory – but isn’t yet listed. That may include you!

We’ll begin with a little history to help you understand the change.

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The Last Four Myths About Starting an Independent Advocacy Practice

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This is week 3 of our series, and includes the final four myths about starting, building, and growing an independent patient advocacy or care management practice.

To remind you, these myths are based on the comments I’ve heard from advocates who (I’m sorry to say) failed at getting a practice started, 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.

Here are the final four myths for you to consider, in hopes these misconceptions aren’t yours. Or, if they are, we hope this helps you reconsider, and take steps to be sure they don’t sink your advocacy practice.

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