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How Do I Become a Patient Advocate?

A patient advocate working with a teen.
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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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There are three ways to become a patient advocate: as a volunteer, in a professional capacity and through the political process. A patient advocate is responsible for coordinating multiple health care services on behalf of a client. This is a very important role and one that provides added value to both individuals and health care providers.

Patient advocacy services are quite broad, and range from arranging transportation to and from medical appointments to communicating directly with health care staff about the client's concerns and health issues. The health care services industry is very complex, and the coordination of care for people with multiple health issues requires time, attention to detail and follow through. The patient advocate provides these services and helps patients receive all the care they required.

In order to become a patient advocate volunteer, you will need to complete a volunteer application form at your local hospital or health services center. Although there are no specific educational requirements for patient advocates, a background in health care services, excellent communication skills and patience are all valuable assets to have. A police record check is standard for this type of volunteer position.

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Social workers, nurses and nurses assistants all have the skills necessary to become a patient advocate. As a professional patient advocate, health care workers are hired by a government agency, hospital or charitable organization. Each advocate has a specific set of duties, clients and visitation schedule. In this role, the health care worker is expected to use her advanced knowledge and medical experience to facilitation clear, open, honest communication between the patient and the health care professionals responsible for providing medical care.

Patient advocacy at the political level is an area where there is a great opportunity to make a difference in people's lives. In order to become a patient advocate at this level, experience in the political process within the heath care industry is critical. This role is a management one, with the creation of presentations on specific health care issues, discussing the strengths and weaknesses of any proposed plan and holding the institutions accountable for how they treat their most vulnerable patients.

In order to become a patient advocate, you should have patience, perseverance, dedication and excellent communication skills. People who enjoy this type of work have a strong social welfare bias, are naturally outgoing and have a strong sense of community. The rewards from this job are closely related to the personal interaction with the client.

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lovealot
Post 6

I think that political patients advocates need to have all the attributes of a personal patient advocate, like patience, understanding, and the ability to organize and communicate.

The political patient advocate also needs to have knowledge of the big picture of health care, any new plans, and needs to monitor hospitals to make sure patients are getting the best care possible. She/he also needs to be a good public speaker.

I wonder where you can get information about what political patient advocates are working on?

PinkLady4
Post 5

We have a large pool of people, who have been in the health care field and would be wonderful patient advocates - the experiences and personal characteristics are there. But there are also many people, who would love to help patients in their hour of need during hospitalizations. They just need some education and training.

We are a country of volunteers, but we also need to be shown appreciation for what we do. A simple "thanks" from the hospital staff, a special banquet, or whatever, is always appreciated.

Patient advocates are especially needed now that families move all over the country, and many are not living near relatives. Unfortunately, they can't drop all their responsibilities to come and be with sick relatives long-term.

golf07
Post 4

Being familiar with the medical system and having excellent communication skills is important to be a good successful patient advocate, but I think one of the most important qualifications is to have a lot of patience.

There is no easy way around all that is involved with complex or long term medical issues. It is enough to make anyone want to pull their hair out. Having a health advocate has made all the difference for my mother who has been going through something like this for the past couple of years.

The lady that works with my mother is a volunteer, but she has been a real life saver more than once. It is such a burden that has been lifted knowing there is someone who understands the system and willing to help her make sense of it all.

sunshined
Post 3

My sister has been through three years of extensive hospitalizations and therapy for some different health issues. The amount of paperwork and red tape that is involved is simply overwhelming for them.

I don't live in the same state she does, but because of all that she has gone through, I have considered learning how to become a patient advocate.

They have spent countless hours trying to make sense of all the papers, talking with the insurance company, doctors and staff members.

I can see how this could almost be a full time job for someone, and having someone like a patient advocate to help guide you through this process would be very valuable.

popcorn
Post 2

If you are looking for a good volunteer position for school is becoming a patient advocate much like being a candy striper?

It seems to me that this position is very similar but with the chance to do more paperwork instead of just focusing solely on patient visitation.

My friend was a candy striper for a few years and much of what she did was talking with patients and making sure that they had attention as needed. Often patients are left alone and feel unhappy with the hospital environment.

My friend even went to nurses with patient concerns on more than one occasion, making sure their problems were heard.

lonelygod
Post 1

I think patient advocates deserve a lot of respect for the work that they do. Doing your best on behalf of people that are too sick to help themselves is a noteworthy task.

Many hospitals offer volunteer positions for patient advocates that ensure you get hands on experience dealing with patients. Being able to sit down and talk with the sick about their concerns is a wonderful thing, and volunteers can not only help bring patients much needed attention but they offer a great service by listening.

If you are tasked with other duties like arranging transportation and keeping records, you really start to get a better picture of the health care industry and everything that goes into it to keep it working.

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