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Forum Fireworks Tackle the Question: Who Is Qualified to Be a Patient Advocate?
Fireworks erupted in the APHA Forum recently. I call them fireworks because those involved are so passionate about their work – no matter what their points of view. Fireworks are awe-inspiring and truly beautiful, even if they don’t accomplish much, which is exactly what transpired. The questions and statements that caused that passion are worth sharing here, because they can help all of us clarify our roles in this growing profession of patient advocacy and navigation. The initial question was ” I’d love to hear from advocates –like me– who do not have medical credentials –about how you position yourself in the market. Why should someone choose us when they can get an RN advocate?” What the discussion evolved to was: Who is qualified to offer patient advocacy services? Who is “good enough” or experienced enough or worthy of the title? What roles do patient advocates and navigators play in their work with their clients? And, like in any argume… I mean… fireworks display, there were some bright shining stars, some explosions, some oooo’s and aaahhh’s – and some duds. I won’t recreate the discussion because, frankly, it stands by itself in points, counterpoints and personalities. But I will provide some commentary to share with everyone, whether or not you are a part of APHA’s Forum, because these are the truths I hold for this marvelous profession which exists to serve the patients and caregivers who desperately need us: 1. Despite what some would claim, or would want you to believe, you do not need medical / clinical credentials to be an excellent patient advocate. I have addressed this question previously and won’t go into all the same reasons again. Honestly, at this point, anyone who continues to make that claim has just not been paying attention. There are so many services that patient advocates provide, that to believe one has to have a clinical background to be an effective and successful patient advocate is like suggesting that you need to know how to rebuild an engine in order to drive a car. Or that you need to know how…