If you would like to become a patient advocate, studying patient advocacy so that you can earn the skills you need to compete for a position is a must. With more and more hospitals competing for business in the recent years, patient advocacy has become a very popular career field. If you would like to become an expert in helping seniors and other patients with complex healthcare needs navigate the system, the first step is getting an education so that you are prepared to advocate in hospitals, rehab centers and other medical offices. Read on, and learn about the types of degrees that will help you land a position as a patient advocate.
Earn Your Bachelor's Degree in an Appropriate Discipline
Patient advocacy is a fairly new field, and because of this, it is currently unregulated. Just because certifications and degrees are not legal requirements does not mean that they are not important. While some patient advocacy specialists have landed a position in the field with only a high school diploma, a majority of people hired into the field now hold their Bachelor's degree.
Choosing the best degree to start your career can be challenging. Earning a general degree in Healthcare can get you where you need to go, but the ideal program has classes that are focused specifically on consumer advocacy. More and more schools are rolling out that offer students focused curriculum on advocacy. By researching programs and selecting one in Healthcare Consumer Advocacy, you will develop an understanding for the complexities of the healthcare system while you learn how to handle difficult situations.
Earn Additional Credentials
The next step to become an advocate is to earn additional credentials so that you can develop additional field talents. Believe it or not you can develop many of the talents that you need to succeed in the field from other backgrounds. There is no official certification program that all advocates must complete, and there is also a certification myth going around that there is some type of certification system. Currently, there are no government or nationally recognized accreditation agencies that have set the standards and benchmarks in patient advocacy, according to Alphablog. Because there are not universally recognized standards, there is no certification or license. To earn additional credentials, you can take special training programs, but do not consider these classes a requirement because no universal certificate exists.
Get Experience by Volunteering
If you have no experience in a healthcare setting, landing a position as a patient advocate can be challenging. To get the hands-on experience that you need in the setting that you want to work in, consider volunteering. You can volunteer to work with a non-profit service agency who helps patients or volunteer directly with a medical facility. Doing this will earn you a positive reputation and help you gain the experience that you need to put on your resume to get attention.
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It is common for people who currently work in direct patient care or as an administrative team member to transition to this career, because there is no licensing requirement. Because of this, it is very important to earn your degree if you want to compete with no healthcare employment history. Find the best degree program, and study to become a patient advocate.