In the Absence of Certification – a Code of Conduct and Professional Standards

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In the Absence of Certification – a Code of Conduct and Professional Standards

As private, independent health advocates are very aware, there is no nationally (or internationally) recognized certification for our profession.  As such, there is no recognized – or expected – set of behaviors or standards for our profession either. What exactly does that mean, and why does it matter? Let’s put ourselves in our potential clients’ shoes for a moment. With no rules and no set of expectations – what makes potential clients think they can trust us?  They find an advocate’s name online, talk to them on the phone for a few minutes, and – what?  Send them money?  Put their faith, health (and possibly their lives) in that advocate’s hands?  Based on what? When a patient goes to the doctor, that doctor has a list of credentials that at least say “OK – this doctor went to school, passed tests, and probably knows the stuff you need him or her to know.”  Those credentials include degrees, certifications and licenses. The same is true for many other service providers – from realtors to teachers to hairdressers…. But not health or patient advocate or navigators.  Granted – those advocates and navigators who have nursing or physician backgrounds have a good start.  But still…  no nationally recognized set of standards for the profession of health advocacy. So to move the profession forward, a committee of well-respected private advocates* has helped to develop a Health Advocates’ Code of Conduct and Professional Standards – one YOU, as an advocate of any flavor, are invited to subscribe to. Private advocates, hospital advocates, insurance advocates – if you work as a health advocate, you are invited to subscribe. The intent is not to suggest this is a nationally recognized code. It’s not.  Instead, it’s a set of concepts that individual advocates can point to – publicly – to say “I BELIEVE IN THIS CODE AND THESE STANDARDS AND WILL CONDUCT MY ADVOCACY WORK ACCORDINGLY.”  It provides the opportunity to make such a statement on your website, your printed marketing materials, in the materials you hand off to your potential clients, and more.  It helps your clients…


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