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Navigating Healthcare with Confidence and Clarity: Lessons from a Patient Advocate

Navigating Healthcare with Confidence and Clarity: Lessons from a Patient Advocate

Navigating Healthcare with Confidence and Clarity: Lessons from a Patient Advocate

Posted on August 30, 2023

Through this journey that is my life, I find myself woven into a tapestry of challenges, triumphs, and transformative moments. Each step along this path has shaped me into the patient advocate I am today, driven by the unwavering conviction to empower individuals with the skills to navigate our complex healthcare system with both confidence and clarity.

Looking back, it has become evident that these life events have been far from confidential. They were guiding forces that shaped my purpose and set me on a mission to make a difference in the lives of those facing healthcare challenges.

1. Defying Discouragement:

From an early age, I harbored aspirations to follow in my mother’s footsteps and become a nurse. I took my first steps toward this goal by training and then working as a nurse’s aide while in high school. However, Mom was always direct, no matter the impact, in an unexpected revelation, informing me I lacked the acumen to ascend to the role of an RN, which presented a fork in my path. Undeterred, I chose to blaze my trail by enrolling in a prestigious practical nursing program, determined to carve my destiny on my terms.

2. Northern Maine Adventure:

Serendipity guided me to a hospital in northern Maine, where I found love, raised a family, and gained invaluable nursing experience. Yet, the confines of my role as a licensed practical nurse fueled a hunger for more, leading me to a brief three-year impactful entrepreneurial venture – as an enchanting gift and bookstore owner. I thrived by taking advantage of unique opportunities that came my way and built relationships with customers by rising to meet then exceed their needs. Locating out-of-print books became a specialty.

3. Unconventional Ascent:

In this tapestry, threads of education and ambition intertwined as I embarked on an academic awakening in my late 30s, I went back to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree – in business instead of nursing. To help pay the bills at home, I continued to work full-time, with flexible hours (Saturdays and Sundays as a supervisor and other tasks during the week - making rounds with physicians was a favorite.)

Meanwhile, the honors program at the university opened more doors to knowledge, propelling me to the pinnacle of scholastic excellence – summa cum laude graduation. The hospital that hired me to work in their special care unit (intensive and cardiac care) hired me as a member of senior staff to lead the newly created public relations program, which rather quickly grew into a community relations and fund development department.

On the move, my pursuit of leadership within another healthcare system led me to earn a graduate degree that, in addition to bolstering my credentials, illuminated my path as a transformative leader, providing opportunities for continued, transformative growth. “No” became an opportunity for self-discovery of patience, perseverance, and resourcefulness.

4. Discovery of Patient Advocacy:

In the ensuing years, I burned out and then spent a few more years trying to reignite my passion while determining my purpose. Quite by accident (one very solid life lesson I have learned is that there are no coincidences), I experienced a revelation while coordinating long-distance medical transports upon learning about the relatively new field of patient advocacy.

Six months later, with credentials in hand and testing, I successfully completed the certification exam as a professional Patient Advocate. Within another six months, Patient Advocates of Southwest Florida, LLC launched.

A full circle moment – appreciating the skills honed through years at patient bedsides and academia, patient advocacy converged seamlessly both art (its inherent focus on empathy and emotional support) and science (through the understanding of medical knowledge and technical expertise). Truly, a multidisciplinary role requires patient advocates to seamlessly blend these and other aspects to provide comprehensive support to patients and their clients.

Values and Beliefs:

1. Persistence and Positivity:

I firmly believe that “no” marks the beginning of a journey, not its end. Patience, resourcefulness, and positivity are the driving forces that shape my approach to navigating challenges.

2. Heart, Head, and Hand:

My guiding philosophy centers on empathy, knowledge, and action. These form the tripod from which I empower individuals to make informed decisions, compassionate guidance, and comprehensive education.

3. Empowerment Through Complexity:

I stand for supporting individuals and families in navigating the complexities of the healthcare system. My mission is to empower clients to make decisions aligned with their unique needs, even in the face of complexity.


At the core of my story lies the resilience my family displayed in the face of adversity, particularly during our son’s twenty-plus-year battle with addiction. These experiences fuel my commitment to stand beside families facing similar challenges, ensuring they don’t have to bear their burdens alone.

Vision for the Future:

1. Thriving Advocacy Practice:

The demand for patient advocates continues to grow as the complexity of our healthcare system poses challenges. My vision included a thriving advocacy practice that assists clients in navigating these complexities, providing unwavering support.

2. Coaching for Independent Navigation:

To bridge the gap between demand and supply, within the first quarter of 2024, I will begin offering coaching programs to equip individuals with the tools they need to navigate the healthcare system independently, including the support and confidence required to make well-informed decisions.

3. Consulting for Empowerment

Through consulting services, I envision offering tailored strategies that empower individuals to forge personalized, informed decisions. The power to shape one’s healthcare journey is a reality that I am committed to making accessible.

As I reflect on my journey and the road ahead, one truth remains clear: There are no coincidences. Every challenge, triumph, and moment of growth has played an essential role in shaping the patient advocate I’ve become. My purpose is unwavering – to guide individuals through the healthcare maze with confidence, clarity, and the support they deserve.

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