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A One Word Resolution for All Advocates
Greetings at the top of new year, with hopes you had a great holiday season and you’re getting prepped for success in 2012. I always feel a bit of inertia after taking a break, or a vacation, or when my world has slowed down for some deep breath-taking for awhile…. that is, my body at rest still wants to stay at rest! And when I hear about “resolutions” – geesh – that sounds too much like work. So, as we are bombarded by media talking about this resolution or that, I have one simple one for many of you – not much work at all. There will be some of you who find this suggestion already ingrained in your lexicon. But for others, it’s a habit worth breaking, or a good one worth establishing, for a few different reasons. That habit is breaking the use of the word “patient” when we talk about the people we work with. If you use that term, then today is your day to stop. Instead, shift to using the word “client.” Why? The most important reason is because using the word “patient” can get you into trouble. Or put more positively, the use of the word “client” may keep you out of trouble, especially if you are a health or patient advocate who is licensed for medical practice. Use of the term “client” shows that you do not have a medical relationship to the person you are working with. This is important for legal and insurance reasons. By calling the person you are providing services to a “client”, you are establishing the type of relationship you have, defined by Merriam Webster as “a person who engages the professional advice or services of another.” In particular, if you have the right kind of insurance for medical/navigational advocacy, subtracting “patient” from your vocabulary is especially important because you are not covered for the types of services that might be offered to a medical provider’s patient. Another reason it’s important is to help your client better understand the relationship between the two of you. So often our…