Emerging Nurse Career: Patient Advocate
I had never heard of a private patient advocate. But I always knew I had more to offer than just carrying out written doctor’s orders, filling out the paperwork and going home.
I started brainstorming and searching around online for answers. What I found was exciting: Private patient advocacy is an emerging field that brings together nursing and medicine with social work and research, and includes the fields of insurance and patient education.
And get this—there’s a professional organization of private patient advocates just forming: the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants (nahac.com), along with an (affordable!) online credentialing program at Healthcare Liaisons, LLC. The biggest benefit of joining these groups is that you don’t have to know everything about healthcare, but you can bet with the networking available, you can find answers to virtually every question you might have.
What’s the real beauty of becoming a private patient advocate? Finally, I’m able to give more to help.
What are some of the things I do?
- Consult with clients to understand their goals
- Provide summaries and explanations of doctor visits
- Educate family members on how to care for their loved one during difficult times, both in the hospital and after discharge
- Assist in making difficult healthcare decisions
- Discuss treatment options, second opinions and clinical trials
- Work with MD and hospital staff on patient’s behalf
- Review insurance documents, negotiate charges and other issues
- Find palliative and other long-term care resources
In no time, I was totally immersed in my new occupation. I attended a workshop and a conference in Berkeley, Calif.; formed business relationships with other professionals; built my Website (CaringEdge.com); got my insurance and business licenses; and was up and running in no time.
Our time as nurses has come. We have a lot of knowledge and untapped talent for our communities. We can make a difference.
Janet Wise, RN, MSN, is founder and president of CaringEdge.com, a private patient advocate company. She is a career professional with more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare system and has held a variety of positions in the field ranging from psychiatric nursing to orthopedic, medical/surgical, post-op and recovery, and cardiac care. In addition, she has served as university professor and director of education at a Los Angeles hospital. She maintains a current RN license (California) and holds a master's degree in nursing from Vanderbilt University. Janet was featured in Good Housekeeping magazine’s August 2008 issue (click here for article), which profiled women who have made noteworthy individual career choices.
By Janet Wise