Why Are You Involved?
As a nurse advocate, I recently returned to taking clients on in my practice. My role is to help coordinate care, break down barriers, and find the resources my patients need to address their healthcare needs. I work with all members of the healthcare team, the insurance company and others who people encounter as patients and caregivers.
I returned after a life-changing experience where I was the patient. The one main takeaway from my experience is ‘how hard it is to be a patient.” As I emerged from my journey, I decided to return to active practice and help those in need, especially those who had limited resources and needed help to advocate for themselves. What I found since returning is that being a nurse advocate, a case manager, or any of the other titles that professionals who do this type of work is that it is HARD work. The healthcare system is frustrating, challenging, unfriendly, expensive, and dangerous if there is not someone to watch out for the patient.
While working with a man with liver disease recently, a nurse in one of his doctors office asked me why I was involved? I stopped for a minute as her question took me by surprise. Why was I involved? After a minute, I told her I was involved in helping the patient coordinate care, set up and attend his appointments, and help him understand his care plan. I was involved as his son lived out of state and could not go to the various appointments with him, so after each doctors visit, I called/sent him and gave him an update, so he was aware of what was going on with his dad. I am ‘the boots on the ground’ to help the man and his son during a complex time.
After I finished my explanation, she said, oh, I never knew people could have someone like you work with them. I replied, yes, this field is becoming more and more popular because people realize they need help as the healthcare system is complex, fragmented, and built for the healthcare system – not the people who use it.
I work with those who are sick, have complex cases and who have a hard time making an appointment, trying to make sense of what each of their doctors is saying as their schedules don’t give them time to sit and get to know their patient. I am the one who says’, ‘Doctor can you stay for a minute while Mr. X asks you a question.’ I am involved to give the patient and their family members a voice – in a system where many don’t have the time to listen. I ask the patient, the family what THEY want and help them communicate that information.
I am involved to assist one person at a time, navigate a complex and fragmented healthcare system when they are not feeling well and don’t have the energy to fight a system that is not designed to really help them. This is why I am involved!