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Where Do Patient Advocates Get Their Education or Certification?
My email inbox each week finds many questions that relate to health advocates’ education, or the availability of certification. There are three general questions I am asked: One of the most frequent questions I get comes from newbies – someone who is just thinking about becoming a patient advocate, maybe understands the basic concept of what the work might entail, and wants to know what sort of education they must look for to get started, and “to be certified” – to earn their patient advocacy certification. Then I hear from those who, six or eight months into their private practice of health advocacy, realize that (what we actually nag and harp on all the time through the Alliance!) – if they don’t learn something about marketing and being business owners, they won’t succeed. Finally, for those who have been successfully doing this work for a period of time, and want to keep up with the latest and greatest – they want to know what opportunities exist for continuing education and, hand-in-hand, networking. The answers to all those questions are really quite simple! And, too, they are actually quite complex. Getting Started – and Patient Advocacy Certification Questions: What those who have been studying and working in our advocacy ‘space’ know – and newbies eventually figure out – is that there is not yet any form of national or internationally recognized patient advocacy certification or credential of any sort. None. Zippo. Nada. Yes – there is a group working to build the right certification, but (as of May 2014) patient advocacy certification doesn’t yet exist, and it will be (educated guesstimate) 2016 before it does. Oh yes – there are a handful of educational groups that will tell you that you’ll be certified if you take their courses. They even list previous students on their website, calling them ‘certified advocates.’ One even claims their certificed advocates “licenses” must be renewed annually…. but the truth is, it is only THAT group that recognizes the credential at all. There is no national or international standard, no matter what they claim. (Don’t forget –…