Becoming My Own Healthcare Advocate
Last updated: September 2023
One of my earliest memories is of the doctor's visits my mother used to attend with my grandmother. I remember my mother taking notes and asking the doctors many questions. Whether it was about the diagnosis they gave or the medications they were prescribing, my mother was a great example of a patient advocate.
However, I didn't have my mother or anyone else by my side when I was first diagnosed
I did have an example from my mother of what advocacy could look like. Therefore, when my doctor didn't take my health concerns seriously, I knew this wasn't how it should be. I didn't need to feel frustrated that I wasn't being seen or heard. I knew that there was something that I could do about it.
But this process wasn't exactly easy
Taking control of your health and becoming your healthcare advocate will feel challenging initially. Many of us grow up being told never to question authority. Therefore, there will be a natural hesitation to advocate for ourselves. However, being part of communities like this has encouraged me to speak up even when my voice shakes. That's why I'm sharing my journey to becoming my healthcare advocate.
It started with learning how to advocate for myself
The first step in becoming an effective healthcare advocate was understanding the difference between being assertive versus aggressive. Assertiveness is a powerful tool for advocating for yourself without making members of your healthcare team feel attacked or threatened. On the other hand, aggression can result in your healthcare team being less likely to listen to your point of view or take you seriously.
That said, I was intentional about being assertive when asking for what I needed. Unfortunately, it became clear to me that my healthcare team was not on board at the time. So, I decided it was time to leave my doctor behind and search for support elsewhere.
Leaving my doctor behind wasn't easy, but it was necessary
In finding a new healthcare team, I researched their credentials, background experience, and other patient reviews to decide who suited me. After research, I decided to go with a virtual healthcare team covered by my insurance instead of one affiliated with my local hospital. While this option might not be the best for everyone, it is best for me.
What it's been like since finding my healthcare team
After leaving my old doctors behind, I've found a new healthcare team that listens and seeks solutions for me instead of just brushing off my symptoms as "normal." What I've appreciated about my new healthcare team is that we work together to develop a plan of action to manage my condition better. Accessing care tailored to my needs has helped me feel seen and heard. This kind of support system has been incredibly helpful in giving me peace of mind knowing that there are people who understand what I'm going through and are willing to help guide me along the way.
Now, I feel more confident being my healthcare advocate
As someone with a chronic condition, learning to become an effective healthcare advocate has been essential in finding relief while still feeling supported by medical professionals around me. Taking control of your health doesn't have to mean going it alone; having a dedicated team by your side can be invaluable in helping you achieve better outcomes long-term while also feeling respected along the way! With enough research, dedication, and persistence, anyone can become their healthcare advocate!
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