Social Engagement: High
What’s What: Volunteers are always needed to help people wade through the many layers of complexity when it comes to healthcare. If you have relevant experience or the will to help people navigate the healthcare system, volunteering as a Patient Advocate could be an excellent use of your time.
Amava Take: It’s no secret that one illness is all it takes for someone to find themselves inside a labyrinth of issues regarding access to care, reimbursement and workplace concerns. There are millions of people in need of help, both through illness specific organizations and umbrella foundations for patient advocacy. If you are adept at listening with compassion, creatively solving problems and navigating complexity, you can make a significant difference, one patient at a time.
From the Front Lines:
What kinds of candidates are you looking for to fill these jobs?
Smart, persistent and creative people are fantastic in this role.
Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?
Try to get up to speed on the common concerns of the stakeholders—employers, insurers, providers and most importantly, patients.
What’s a typical daily schedule like?
Generally, these positions are on call as opposed to regular hours.
From the Trenches:
What’s the most satisfying part of the job?
Helping people who are focused on healing navigate the complex and confusing medical and social services system.
How would you describe the hard parts?
It is sometimes hard to face the inefficiency of a system that puts stress on people at the worst possible time.
What have you learned from this work?
In addition to seeing the inner workings of HR departments, insurance companies and healthcare providers, I’ve seen incredible grace and strength in my clients.
Special Requirements: There are no special requirements, though any legal, business or healthcare background tends to be enormously helpful.
Finding a Position: The National Patient Advocate Foundation is a great place to contact about opportunities that suit your schedule and skills. It’s also a wonderful place to learn about the issues. Volunteers are needed by nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping people with specific diseases. Find one that speaks to you! The Patient Advocate Foundation and Mended Hearts are two organizations that can also point you in the direction of resources and ways to get involved.