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“I’ve done advocacy for friends and loved ones all my life. Now I just want to get paid for it!”
I wish I had a nickel for every time someone told me “I want to join the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates because I’m good at advocacy, I’ve done it for years for friends and family, and now I just want figure out how to get paid for it.” Honestly? Sometimes those words make me want to scream, because I know they will never make that leap. The problem is, no matter how simple the answer, no matter how many opportunities they have – the majority of people who can make that statement will never be paid for independent advocacy work. Why not? The answer is actually very simple (it’s only four words!), and is provided below. First, let’s examine who these folks are and what has brought them to this point. Most nurses who want to become independent advocates (and others too – don’t want you to think I’m picking on nurses!) have spent an entire career working for an employer, in a workplace that has very specific, pre-prescribed, rarely changeable rules. Rules for everything, ranging from how to answer the phone, to exactly how to do their work, how much time they were allowed to spend doing it, and sometimes even what they were expected to wear. If someone broke a rule, it could have dire consequences for many others, including patients (who could get sicker or die) and other personnel, who would look down on the rulebreaker as if he or she was someone to be disdained. If a problem needed a solution for which there wasn’t already a rule, then a new rule was created. If you are one of those workers, then you understand well how the rules are double-edged: Rules make it easy to know what is expected, even when they make it hard to do the work the way you would want to do it. The rules work for many or most of the patients who need help, but when they don’t work, the result can be devastating. Working within the rules makes collection of a paycheck a regular thing, but it may…