Announcing – the Winner of the Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award for 2016

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The most prestigious award in the profession of patient advocacy, and in particular, independent, private patient advocacy is awarded this time each year to the person who best exemplifies the tenets of the award.

Drum roll please!

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Celebrating the 5th Annual Private Professional Patient Advocates Week

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pppawheaderOur Fifth Annual Private Professional Patient Advocates Week – is this week – March 16 to 22 -and I’m here to share tales of the growth of our profession.

Can it be that patient advocacy as a profession is now so “old” ?  Granted, there were a handful of advocates practicing long before we began to quantify and qualify the profession.  The year 2009, with the launch of NAHAC and APHA / AdvoConnection, marked the beginning of the growth that would make us a recognized profession across North America.

Some background:

From the 30-ish people who joined AdvoConnection in 2009 – for free! – with a belief that this might be an interesting alliance full of possibilities… to the almost 550 members of APHA today, and dozens more who aren’t yet on our current radar…  yes, growing.

So, as I did last year, I thought I’d share a profile of our membership and achievements:

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The 2015 Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award Winner Is…

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Ken Schueler, before he passed away in 2011, was the most exemplary of professional, independent patient advocates. He was kind and compassionate, extremely knowledgeable, a great businessman, and a gift to all those who knew him.  One of his former patients said of Ken, “When I contacted Ken Schueler,it was like finding my compass.”

Ken’s ethics and standards were above reproach. He saved lives, improved the quality of life for many, and generously donated his time helping others learn to be great health advocates in order to grow the profession. These important contributions helped to establish and grow our profession of patient advocacy.

schuelerlogoTo celebrate Ken’s life and his contribution to the many patients and advocates he supported and influenced over the years, the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates established the H. Kenneth Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award, requiring those who would earn the award to demonstrate their own contributions to their patient-clients, and to the profession. We did so with the help of Ken’s daughter, Alexandra, a talented and  accomplished young woman in her own right, who worked with us to establish the criteria for the award and continues to serve as a judge each year.

And so, it is with pride that we confer our 2015 Schueler Compass Award to

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The 2014 Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award… and the winner is…

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logo: The Kenneth Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass AwardAnd – we have a winner!

The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, on behalf of its selection committee (comprised of past winners plus Ken Schueler’s daughter, Alexandra), is pleased to announce the 2014 winner of the H. Kenneth Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award:

Karen Zorrilla, MD of Houston, Texas.  Congratulations Karen!

The choice was both easy and difficult.  Karen’s qualifications are outstanding – an easy choice.  However, all our applicants are outstanding examples of excellence in their service to their clients and our profession. The competition was stiff. There were no wrong choices. In fact, this year’s applicants who did not receive the award have been encouraged to enter again next year.

Karen was nominated by a fellow advocate, Elisabeth Russell, who is also a past winner, and a business colleague. Karen does most of her private advocacy work as a result of contracting with Elisabeth’s company, Patient Navigator.  (Learn more about contracting with fellow advocates.)

How the winner is chosen or determined:

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Of Honor and Yardsticks

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yardstickIf anyone decides one day to research and write the history of private, independent patient advocacy, they will likely put the genesis of the profession as 2009, when the first two advocacy organizations, NAHAC and APHA / AdvoConnection were launched.

Of course, there can’t be such a thing as an organization unless there are people who are looking to be… well… organized.  I don’t know how many members NAHAC had when it opened its doors, but APHA / AdvoConnection launched with about 30 interested parties, of whom perhaps a dozen were already working successfully as privately paid advocates.

We’re still in the early years. We still consider ourselves pioneers.  But it is on the shoulders of those who were already helping patients that we continue building and expanding our profession.  Importantly, we look to those early advocates to define and measure excellence in our profession; they are our YARDSTICKs.

Among the pioneers was Ken Schueler who was not only a giant among advocates; he was a giant among human beings. After his own – successful – battle with Stage 4 lymphoma in the early 1990s, Ken left his high-profile job with UNICEF to start his own advocacy practice, focusing on helping people diagnosed with difficult and rare cancers. Within a few years, he had established a global reputation for his work which put patients at the center of their own decision-making based on clinically researched, evidence based treatments – not just mainstream, traditional treatments, but when available, alternative and complementary approaches, too.

Importantly, Ken didn’t limit his work to the individuals who hired him. His contributions to the profession are seen every day through the Health Advocate’s Code of Conduct and Professional Standards.

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