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.
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.
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.
I had interesting conversations with someday-advocates last week. I love those conversations; I always learn something from them which I can then bring back to the Alliance and the information we share with members.
And then again, sometimes the questions I hear are the same ones that have cropped up over and over again, including today’s question: Is there insurance reimbursement for the work of an independent advocate?
This time, I’m going to answer that question with a few questions of my own.
My husband and I moved two years ago to Florida where we now live in an “active adult” community*. We love it! We’re very happy here. We’ve met and made many new friends – people we have truly come to care about.
I’m following in family footsteps. My parents did the same thing decades ago. They lived in a different city, but they, too, lived in an active adult community for 20+ years.
My father, in a somewhat macabre voice, always called it “God’s Waiting Room.”
And, as I learned again this past week, it turns out that we now live in God’s Waiting Room, too.