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Revisiting the Mean Girls in Our New Advocacy Environment
The “mean girls” are at it again… or so I’ve been warned by a handful of APHA members. I’m not sure I agree. But I know one thing for sure: the world of the mean girls has shifted. Who are the “mean girls?” I first applied the moniker about three years ago to refer to nurses who believed that no one should be a patient advocate unless he or she is a nurse. I cited instances when a small handful of nurses had bullied other non-nurse advocates both at conferences, and through emails – yes, actively bullied. I outlined once and for all, and very specifically, all the reasons one does not need to be a nurse to be an effective patient advocate. None of that has changed. Now – because in the past I have been accused of stepping on nurses’ toes when I bring this up (which is never my intention) – let me be perfectly clear. I LOVE nurses! I LOVE their passion and commitment to improving the lives and quality of lives of their patients! I respect nurses for their knowledge, experience, and abilities! And I wholeheartedly support their segue into the world of independent advocacy, with gratitude that they are willing to move to the bright side. I am also very sure that the “mean girl” concept applies only to a VERY small handful; and certainly not to all nurse-patient-advocates. However, the “mean girls” concept came up again recently because a group of patient advocates who are nurses, who belong to a nurse-advocacy organization, have begun raising money to fund patient education. A solicitation email went out to many people (dozens, hundreds?), with an emphasis on the fact that the organizers are nurse patient advocates and therefore they are the right people to be supporting this work. It was then forwarded to several dozen (hundreds?) more advocates… The problem is: not everyone who received the email is a nurse-advocate, and some of the non-nurses took umbrage. While I am sure that no one who sent the email intended for it to come across in the…