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Remembering the Mean Girls
In Fall 2010, about 150 health advocates, many of whom were just considering entering the profession, convened in Washington DC for the Second Annual NAHAC Conference. I was there at the invitation of NAHAC, to both be a vendor, and to give a presentation about marketing for advocates. The conference was a resounding success in my estimation, using my two conference-success measuring sticks: 1. I met so many smart, wonderful, passionate people and 2. I learned so much more than I imparted. But there was one aspect to the conference that left a bad taste in my mouth, marring the experiences of too many, and lighting a fire under me. That is – there was a group of nurses – all women – who behaved, for lack of a better description, like the mean girls. Yes – the mean girls – who insisted that everyone who is a patient advocate must be a nurse, and looked down their noses at anyone who wasn’t a nurse. Their words and their body language spoke their bullying truth. Their clarity of opinion left more than one non-nurse attendee reeling, including the handful that contacted me about it afterwards. Those mean girls were wrong and misguided* (in my not so humble opinion.) I have written on this topic twice before, but was reminded of it again this week. So I decided that I’d bring it up again, both for the new folks who have begun reading this blog since 2010, and to show that my original posting on this topic in 2010 has only been proven over and over again in the 4+ years since. My previous points have been about all the reasons you do NOT have to be a nurse. They include the fact that as advocates, our services are specifically NOT medical, and that many of the services must be performed by people with skills that are most certainly non-medical, like insurance claims, billing in general, and negotiation. This time around I have history on my side. When I look at some of our most successful advocates, I’ll point out that…