How to Choose the Right Advocacy Educational Program for You
Return to Step 1: Do you need to pursue patient advocate certification or licensing?
Determine where your advocacy paycheck will come from.
- Will you go to work for an employer, like a hospital, an insurance company, or a non-profit focused on health advocacy?
- Or will you decide to start your own practice, working independently, serving the patients you choose to work with, within your own timeframe, commanding your own income?
There are pros and cons to both approaches, of course. It’s a balancing act between wanting and needing a regular paycheck provided by someone else (meaning that someone else gets to make the rules) – and – being willing and able to forego the steady paycheck for the reward of independence, which eventually may produce far more satisfaction and a bigger income than the “security” of an employer might produce.
If you hope to take the route to independence by starting your own practice, then skip to Step 3 for private advocacy.
If you hope to get an advocacy job with an employer, then your next steps are below….
Do your employer-bound gap analysis.
While it may seem there are plenty of jobs available for advocates, a closer examination shows that they are mostly customer service type jobs, not about advocacy, but about accepting complaints about the hospital, insurance company, or other provider or facility.
Most people who find their way to this article are more interested in being a real advocate, working one-on-one with patients (clients) to help them navigate the healthcare system or correct their medical bills. For these kinds of advocacy, there are very few jobs available for patient advocates who work directly with patients without another party coming between them.
But yes, if you are employer-bound, then the answer to the education and experience question will be determined by them. Their requirements may be outlined in the help-wanted listings, or if you have identified an employer you would like to work for, send an email or make a phone call to their Human Resources Department.
With that information in hand, make an assessment of each point to determine whether those are skills or experience you already have. If so, then the only course work you might need might be for refresher purposes. If not, then start a “Gap List” – a list of knowledge, skills and experience you must still develop prior to your advocacy work.
- If you would like to learn more about private, independent (self-employed) advocacy, then go on to Step 3 for private advocates to develop your skills and experience gap analysis.
- If you plan to follow through with employer advocacy, then your next step will be Step 4: determine which programs are the right ones for you.