Patient Advocates: Be a Friend in the Hospital
Megan Malugani / Monster Contributing Writer
Patient’s Problem Solver
What do patient advocates do? On the most basic level, they solve problems for patients and their families. In many instances, a patient doesn’t know where to turn and may feel at the doctors’ mercy. Patient advocates represent patients with problems and get them through the system.
“The best part of my job is knowing I’m helping frustrated people who felt they had nowhere else to turn,” Spicka says. “It’s a good feeling knowing you make a difference in people’s lives.”
Many people aren’t aware that patients have rights, Spicka explains. “Patient advocates help patients exercise those rights and provide channels to find solutions to concerns that haven’t been met in the healthcare facility.”
Patient advocates serve as liaisons between patients and the institution. Because they are insiders, they can usually get results faster and avoid red tape.
The array of problems patient advocates help with range from billing issues to patients who are unhappy about prescribed treatments. It’s not always easy. “The worst thing a facility can do is ignore a patient’s complaint,” Spicka says. “Listening to the person is often as important as the problem itself.”
Patient advocate careers are now so popular that a number of colleges have instituted certification programs. People who go through the programs often have an edge over those who do not.