To advocate is to publicly recommend or support. In terms of healthcare, it means speaking up for yourself and feeling more confident about the choices you make with your doctor. It means not letting someone else make all of your health care decisions without your input. It means being an active player in your health care team and helping drive your outcomes in a positive direction. It means asking questions when you don’t understand. It means keeping track of the course of your care. It means knowing your history and your family history and any other details pertinent to your health. It means following through with your doctor’s recommendations and taking your medications as directed. It means emphasizing an honest, team-oriented relationship with your physicians. It means being honest about your preferences or concerns. Let me clarify. This does not mean being rude or inappropriate or deliberately obstinate with your physician or constantly being on the lookout for a mistake that you can capitalize on. It is exactly the opposite. That kind of behavior really does nothing but insure a negative outcome.
You get the picture? Advocating for yourself requires action! You are representing you! You are the only one who knows you intimately and is with you 24 hours a day. This is something that you should never have to apologize for. For me personally, I love it when patients ask questions and get involved with their care. It shows me that they are actually interested in getting better. I have some colleagues that would strongly disagree. They hate it when they have to spend extra time answering questions. They view it as more of an act of belligerence or a personal attack, doubting their expertise. To me that is just a sign of their own insecurity in their recommendations. I say ask away and don’t leave the office until you feel comfortable.
Did you know that studies show that people who advocate for themselves are healthier and tend to live longer? Sounds like another bonus to speaking up if you ask me. Self advocacy is important because it helps you to be able to make your own decisions. It helps you gain self-respect and self-confidence. It helps you form an alliance with your physician. It helps you be a part of the doctor patient team relationship. It helps you learn to express yourself properly to attain the goals that you want. From what I can see, there really isn’t a down side so speak up why don’t ya?