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A One Word Resolution for All Advocates

January 2, 2012 6 comments

Greetings at the top of new year, with hopes you had a great holiday season and you’re getting prepped for success in 2012.

I always feel a bit of inertia after taking a break, or a vacation, or when my world has slowed down for some deep breath-taking for awhile…. that is, my body at rest still wants to stay at rest!  And when I hear about “resolutions” – geesh – that sounds too much like work.

So, as we are bombarded by media talking about this resolution or that, I have one simple one for many of you – not much work at all.  There will be some of you who find this suggestion already ingrained in your lexicon.  But for others, it’s a habit worth breaking, or a good one worth establishing, for a few different reasons.

That habit is breaking the use of the word “patient” when we talk about the people we work with.  If you use that term, then today is your day to stop.  Instead, shift to using the word “client.”

Why?  Read more…

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Why We Should Avoid Using the Title “Certified Patient Advocate”

December 11, 2011 4 comments

It’s a big question among patient and health advocates – whether or not someone is considered “certified” as a patient advocate. Last week I answered a question that came from an advocate about why someone would bother taking a course or finishing a program if they wouldn’t be considered “certified” at the end….

But there are even bigger considerations – some food for thought for those who disagree with my stand about claiming certification.

I believe the use of “Certified Patient Advocate,” in these early stages of the profession’s development has the potential of hurting both you, as an individual advocate, and the potential of hurting the profession, too.

Here’s why that “certified” title hurts both the profession and you, too:

Read more…

Clarifications and an Update on the Schueler Compass Award

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Just so you know we pay attention, three important concerns have popped up about the Schueler Compass Award, the award recently announced at the AdvoConnection conference.  These concerns came in the form of replies to the survey we took after the conference was over.  Since the surveys were completed anonymously,  and since comments expressed by one person may represent the thoughts of many, we’ll address them here, publicly, on the blog.

Concern 1:  Posted among the survey results about the conference in general was the following:

There was alot of conversation about the KS awards going to 2 members who will be on this board. Most individuals I spoke to felt that if these 2 women were chosen, then they should not have been on the board to choose the candidates.

My response to this question:  I had hoped to be very clear during the conference announcement that the first three winners of the award were chosen only by Alexandra Schueler, Ken’s daughter, and me (Trisha Torrey). Our goal for the first winners was to find the people who, first, would illustrate the ideals the award stands for, and second, were good friends of Ken’s. Further, we needed to address the balance of clinical and non-clinical advocates. We hoped they would accept the award, and then agree to serve on the committee to choose subsequent winners.

And that’s exactly what happened.  Further, none of the three of them knew they were receiving the award until the day of the conference.  If you know any of them well, they were as surprised as anyone was!

Concern 2: From the same comment above, it continued:

It was not clear what the critieria was for the award & it seems to make sense to have the candidate also be someone who does alot of volunteer advocacy… Just some thoughts, but I believe some ideas should go out to the Premium Members… Several expereinced advocates seemed very disturbed by the way this award was handled…

The criteria are clearly spelled out on the website and on the application.  Of course, at the conference, due to time constraints, we listed only the titles for each of the attributes.

As for whether volunteerism should be included as one of the important attributes:  it’s good feedback and by all means, volunteerism can be considered in another year by the committee.  For now, if you want to include volunteer advocacy on your application, then do so in either the Empowerment or Community Visibility descriptions.

Concern 3:  Time. The original deadline for application for the Schueler Compass Award was December 1, giving advocates about one month to apply.  Complaints were made that we aren’t allowing enough time, especially with looming holidays… and because we don’t want someone to miss applying due to time constraints, we are moving the deadline to January 15, 2012, providing an additional six weeks.  You may nominate yourself (which is what we expect most of you will do) or you may nominate someone else.  The dates for decision-making and subsequent public announcements have been moved forward to accommodate for the new application deadline, too.

I hope this clarifies these concerns.  The award is meant to honor both the winners and Ken, too – but another important intent is to set a lofty bar for others to aspire to.  Recognizing individuals for their achievement of these high ideals elevates the entire profession.

We hope you’ll make application soon to be considered for the Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award.

——————-  LEARN MORE  ——————-
FOR PATIENTSFOR ADVOCATES |

Patient Advocacy on the Cusp of the Tipping Point

November 14, 2011 3 comments

A tipping point:  a dictionary definition will tell you that it means “the crisis stage in a process, when significant change takes place.”

And for patient and health advocacy – we are almost there.  Almost at the tipping point.

I first learned the term when I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book by that title, The Tipping Point.  I learned that the term is borrowed from epidemiology.  That is, when a contagious organism infects enough people to go from just a few sick people, to hundreds, or thousands or millions – the tipping point occurs in that modicum of space or time, when all of a sudden it switches from almost epidemic to being an epidemic.  It’s when that threshold is crossed.

Another way of looking at it comes from Hollywood – when an “overnight success” is recognized, even though he or she has been acting, singing or performing for many years prior to that point. But that point between when few know who s/he is and millions recognize his/her name – that’s the tipping point.

Tipping points don’t happen by themselves.  They require a set of circumstances that make the tip happen.  Gladwell describes types of people who make them happen:  connectors, mavens and salesmen, all of whom have a role in helping a concept cross that threshold to become mainstream.

In the past week, two people have shared links that indicate to me that we are almost there.  Both are quotations from well-known or well-regarded people who have identified or described what patient advocates are doing, thereby moving us closer to the mainstream.  These aren’t people who are involved in patient advocacy, meaning these quotations are in no way self-serving.  They are observational – and powerful.

Read more…

First Schueler Compass Award Winners

November 6, 2011 1 comment

The first AdvoConnection Business Institute is behind us – a grand learning time was had by all.

During the conference, the establishment of the H. Kenneth Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award was announced by our “mystery” keynote speaker – Alexandra Schueler, Ken’s daughter.  Her speech was one of the best I have ever heard in any venue, under any circumstances – quite remarkable for a young woman who is just starting out in the world.  Alexandra shared her dad with us, what she knew about his work, and his relationship to his work. She evoked laughter and tears, respect and compassion.  The audience was truly moved, and even those who had never heard of Ken and his work came to know the most important parts of him and his legacy.

And now we will further Ken’s legacy through this new award, described here.

To punctuate Alexandra’s talk, we announced the first winners of the Schueler Compass Award.

•  Ida Schnipper, friend of Ken and owner of Health Champion

•  Sima Kahn, MD, friend of Ken and owner of Healthcare Advocacy Partners

•  Jason McNichol, friend of Ken and president of Health Advocacy Solutions

These first three winners were chosen by Alexandra and me (Trisha Torrey) because they exemplify the high ideals that laid the foundation for Ken’s work and because they were all good friends and colleagues of Ken’s.  Then, because they are the first three, they were also asked to serve on the committee that will choose the winners in future years. Please wish them a hearty congratulations!

You can learn more about the award, and find a link to the application on the AdvoConnection website.  Deadline for the 2012 award is December 1, 2011.  We hope you will apply.

Announcement: The Ken Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award

November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

As announced this morning at the AdvoConnection Business Institute, and in honor of the spirit, legacy and memory of Ken Schueler, our friend and colleague who passed away last spring, we’d like to invite you to apply for the Ken Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award.

The H. Kenneth Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award recognizes Ken’s role in defining and growing patient advocacy as a valuable service that improves the lives of its client-patients. In his name and honor, it supports the growth of this career, and the work of individuals who wish to succeed by following in his footsteps. Ken’s work, like a compass, guides them, giving them direction.

The name is derived from the quote of one of Ken’s patients, Louis Chiricella, who, during a Fox News TV special in Fall 2010 called Winning the War on Cancer, said, “When I contacted Ken Schueler, it was like finding my compass.”

Two awards will be provided each year to patient advocates who best illustrate those professional attributes Ken felt were important. They form the criteria for the award:

  • Empowerment
  • Inclusion
  • Integrative, Evidence-Based Approach
  • Continuous Learning
  • Sharing and Mentoring
  • Community Visibility

The selection committee is comprised of several members of AdvoConnection, plus Ken’s daughter, Alexandra, who participated in the creation of the award.

One award will be made to a patient advocate who, in the past, enjoyed a clinical career.  The other will be awarded to an advocate who did not have a clinical background before becoming an advocate.

Learn more about the H. Kenneth Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award.  Then, begin preparing your application.  The application deadline is December 1, 2011.  The winners will be announced to the public March 1, 2012.

(Update:  Meet the first winners of the Schueler Compass Award!)

——————-  LEARN MORE  ——————-
FOR PATIENTSFOR ADVOCATES |

The Distinction that Can Make All the Difference

October 9, 2011 1 comment

Many of you, despite the fact that you are excellent advocates with outstanding patient advocacy skills, will not succeed as private advocates, because you don’t understand one important distinction.

Doesn’t really seem right, does it?

So what’s that distinction?  Well, it ties into the ongoing discussion about who does, or does not, have the capability to provide the skills patients need, and who will, or won’t, be able to do the work – that discussion about patients’ needs and fulfilling those needs.

Let’s look at it this way first:

Colleen has always loved houses, and has been the admin in a real estate company for almost 30 years. She has handled details upon details for others – from seller contracts to purchaser contracts, from arranging for home showings, to making phone calls to rustle up inspectors, to retrieving signs from a “sold” property’s front yard.  She knows her stuff, she’s done it all, she’s seen it all, and now she’s decided she wants to do real estate work on her own.  So Colleen quits her job, and goes into business for herself.

Colleen approaches her business very professionally, doing all the stuff she thinks she’s supposed to do.  She makes up business cards and some flyers.  She builds a website.  She lets everyone in her neighborhood and her church know that she’s got decades of real estate experience, and now she’s ready to help them list or buy a house. Yes, her phone rings on occasion, but… The business just doesn’t come in to support her well enough.  Eventually she takes a part time job so she can pay some of her bills.  But, of course, if she’s at work at her part time job, and people call her for help right away, she misses the opportunity.

Six months later, Colleen is forced to give up her dream of being in business for herself, doing what she loves and is passionate about.  She can’t support herself and the phone just doesn’t ring often enough.  But she just doesn’t understand it – Colleen can’t figure out why she can’t build a business.

What Colleen missed, the reason she can’t succeed, is the same reason many of you who read this will go out of business, too.  Until you recognize it and act on it, you are doomed to fail (unless, of course, you win the lottery and can be a patient advocate for free, with no worry about income….)

Read more…