Certified Patient or Health Advocate? Here we Go Again

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Certified Patient or Health Advocate? Here we Go Again

Do you consider yourself a Certified Patient Advocate or Certified Health Advocate? I hate to burst bubbles here, but no matter who you are, or what courses or programs you have taken, no matter who or what handed you a certificate at the end, you are not a certified advocate. Why? Because there is no such thing as certification for patient advocates or health advocates. Period. Those of you who have been reading this blog for any length of time have heard this tune – many times – before. Some of you, realizing that you may be doing yourselves and the profession harm by calling yourselves certified advocates, have deleted that designation from your business cards or your email signatures. I applaud you. Truthfully, you don’t have to read this post any further. But others, whether they do so innocently not understanding the distinction, or willfully because no one is going to tell THEM what to do, are actually being deceptive to their clients, and laying the groundwork for problems for themselves. Potentially BIG problems. I know how this whole “certification” thing gets started. Several of the educational programs for private patient advocates issue a certificate when a student has completed their program. So some of their graduates think that makes them “certified.” To an extent they are – but only by that program. Graduates should be proud and pleased they have completed their coursework, and yes, they should share that information with their clients and potential clients (see below*.) But no – completion of any existing program does not make them certified patient or health advocates. Here’s why: The definition of “certification,” in particular the way it is used in a healthcare setting, requires wide agreement on a tested set of skills and criteria that are recognized as important by those people who will hire advocates (e.g. sick people or caregivers), plus all the organizations that bestow such a certificate, as being the right skills and criteria to do the work successfully. There is NO such agreement anywhere in the US or Canada or anywhere else in the world…

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