What is a Health Advocate?

Professionals who work to ensure that everyone receives high-quality health care are known as health advocates. A health advocate may be a fully licensed doctor or nurse in some cases. However, it is not uncommon for advocates of this type to be involved in community groups and organizations that work to ensure that underserved segments of the population have access to at least some type of competent medical care, regardless of their financial ability to pay for it.

While a health advocate does not have to be a trained physician or other type of medical care provider, experience in the field is usually required. Experience with insurance companies, organizations such as the Peace Corps, or even healthcare administration could be on the resume. Many health advocacy organizations have specific qualifications and experience that must be met in order to work as a health advocate within their network. As a result, the qualifications may differ slightly from one situation to the next.

A health advocate is usually concerned with a particular group of people who may or may not otherwise have access to adequate healthcare. Even if the primary caregiver and the children do not have health insurance and have a limited budget to spend on medication and doctor visits, an advocate may choose to work with single parent households to ensure that the primary caregiver and the children are able to see a doctor on a regular basis. Other advocates may specialize in elderly patients, AIDS/HIV patients, or people with permanent disabilities.

Working in the field of health advocacy is exciting because there are so many different ways a health advocate can help. An advocate is often involved in providing relevant information to the clients they work with, in addition to working with private and public health resources. A health advocate who works with diabetics, for example, will ensure that his or her clients understand the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates, how to balance food portions, and the importance of daily exercise as part of a long-term healthcare plan.

Health advocates can be found in almost every aspect of the medical system. Advocates may work as liaisons between the hospital and the community in hospitals. A community health agency, such as a free clinic, may employ a health advocate. Even insurance companies hire health advocates to assist them in evaluating customer claims. Because the specific responsibilities vary from one position to the next, a trained health advocate is without a doubt one of the most adaptable healthcare positions available today.