In an email conversation with one of our APHA mentors last week, a point that is so often lacking in the understanding of an independent advocacy practice was made: That it usually takes 3 to 5 years to know if someone will be a successful business owner, advocacy included.
That so many advocates quit before they get there, never giving themselves a chance, really. They start out thinking it will be easy because, afterall, many been advocates for decades in previous careers… just a simple switch to self-employment, right?
When they finally understand that the first few years are more about business than advocacy, it’s a rude awakening. When that lightbulb goes off, when they begin to understand it’s about running a business, they begin to panic. That’s when I hear:
But I’ve never done this before!
Survivor – Jeff Probst and Company (and company and company and company!) Currently in its 37th season, I’ve watched probably 30 of those seasons. I’m more about the psychology, head games, and strategy. My husband is more about the physical endurance. In total we usually disagree on who we think should win any given season (the one person who never gets voted off the island!) but we both agree that the person who wins deserves to because they have gone into the game with a strategy, implemented it, and as a result, “survived.”
As I watched last week’s Survivor episode (Season 37, Episode 6) I realized that there are at least two strategic aspects of the game of Survivor that become lessons for starting an advocacy practice, both of which I could share with you to help you better understand how they work for launching and growing an advocacy practice:
Andrea is confused, and if Andrea is confused, others among you are, too. She’s just the one who asked. (You might want to thank her!)
Andrea posted a comment on a previous APHA Blog post called Revisiting the Mean Girls in Our New Advocacy Environment asking me to follow up now that we have certification for Patient Advocates. Her confusion (excerpted, but you can read it all here):
In my opinion, the PACB certification does not nullify or restrict a state license in nursing. It feels like these two knowledge bases go hand in hand. I cannot find any information on your caution to RNs to “specifically NOT promote their work as being nurse-related, and not to cross the line”. I see nothing in the linked ethics or competencies that restricts any kind of nursing interventions other than prescribing medications, and actual medical diagnoses.
In other words, I believe she is asking, “Why can’t I be a nurse and a patient advocate, too?”
And the answer is…. (drumroll please….)
What if I told you that you could make or break your advocacy practice by spending an additional 3-5 minutes after each client interface?
Yes – it could be that simple. Hold that thought as I explain…
If someone asked me what question I am asked most frequently, I’d tell them the answer is some variation of this family of questions:
- How much do advocates charge for their services?
- What is the hourly rate for patient advocates?
- How much do patient advocates make?
- How much money do patient advocates get paid?
- What is the average amount a patient advocate charges?
We’ll begin by answering these questions with a question (bad form, but it makes our point…)
- How much does it cost to take a vacation?
- What does it cost to go to college?
- How much more can I make if I get a new job?
Think about those questions for a minute: they are actually kind of silly. In fact, there is only ONE answer; the same answer to the questions about advocates, cost, and pricing.
So of course, now you want to know… “Depends on what?” There are two answers: