How to Choose the Right Advocacy Educational Program for You
Confused? Not sure how to choose the right program?
When you begin to consider whether patient and health advocacy is a good career choice for you, you may also wonder what kind of education or training you might need, and whether or not you need to be certified or licensed.
Depending on the form of advocacy you choose to pursue, there may be dozens of programs available. Of course, the more there are, the more complicated the choice may seem! This article is intended to make it a little easier for you.
Here are some steps you can follow to make the right choice for yourself:
- Advocacy Certification.
- Determine where your paycheck will come from.
- Develop your gap analysis. (employer bound) or (self-employed, independent)
- Choose your programs based on the criteria you develop in #3 above.
Do you need to pursue patient or health advocate certification or licensing?
Begin by understanding the distinction between being certified and receiving a certificate at the end of a program.
Many advocacy educational programs listed on this website provide you with a certificate saying you have completed their courses or program. That piece of paper means you are now certified as having completed the courses offered by ABC University or the ABC Advocacy Program.
But that certification is based on that organizations’ curriculum and is not the same as a nationally recognized certification. Their curricula are their own experts’ best guesses on the skills and knowledge an advocate might need, even if they focus on the national certification exam. The curriculum may be very accurate and comprehensive, but earning one of those certificates is not the same as earning the designation of “certified health or patient advocate.”
National Certification does exist for advocates, offered by the Patient Advocate Certification Board, and launched in early 2018. To understand this certification, and how to earn it for yourself, you’ll want to understand the eligibility criteria, the ethical standards, and the required competencies, then take the Board’s exam. Learn more: The Patient Advocate Certification Board
You can make your own decision about whether you want or need to be certified by doing a very quick, personal evaluation: Is Advocacy Certification Right for You?
Licensing is a very different activity, required by a state or local government for many professions. As of mid-2020, no states or provinces require any form of licensing for independent health or patient advocates.