The 2014 Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award… and the winner is…

logo: The Kenneth Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass AwardAnd – we have a winner!

The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, on behalf of its selection committee (comprised of past winners plus Ken Schueler’s daughter, Alexandra), is pleased to announce the 2014 winner of the H. Kenneth Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award:

Karen Zorrilla, MD of Houston, Texas. Congratulations Karen!

The choice was both easy and difficult. Karen’s qualifications are outstanding – an easy choice. However, all our applicants are outstanding examples of excellence in their service to their clients and our profession. The competition was stiff. There were no wrong choices. In fact, this year’s applicants who did not receive the award have been encouraged to enter again next year.

Karen was nominated by a fellow advocate, Elisabeth Russell, who is also a past winner, and a business colleague. Karen does most of her private advocacy work as a result of contracting with Elisabeth’s company, Patient Navigator. (Learn more about contracting with fellow advocates.)

How the winner is chosen or determined:


Ken Schueler was the epitome of a successful and compassionate advocate right up until his death in 2011. Those who knew him would define him by a number of attributes that outlined his values and beliefs, and defined his advocacy. Those attributes are what are now used to measure the achievements of the Schueler Compass Award applicants, and therefore its winners. Those attributes are:

  • Empowerment
  • Inclusion
  • Integrative approach
  • Continuous learning
  • Mentoring (other advocates)
  • Community

A couple of samples from Karen’s application:


Dr. Zorrilla works with a diverse range of clients. She helped one young uninsured man who had complicated medical issues that providers would not take seriously. She worked with a woman in Mexico who needed help finding the right providers in Southern California as well as learning more about her condition and integrative treatment options. She recently offered several pro bono hours to a former sliding scale client who had a relapse and needed help figuring out next steps and communicating with doctors. Dr. Zorrilla updated clinical summaries and paved the way for this client to go back for renewed treatment. As a practicing pediatrician, Dr. Zorrilla has helped children whose parents came to us looking for cancer clinical trials in one case and for seizure disorder issues in another.


Dr. Zorrilla is active in the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants, a member of APHA and the relevant medical societies. She presented a session at the 2011 NAHAC Conference in Berkeley entitled “Medical Research Tips in One Easy Lesson” which was wildly popular. She also co-facilitated a case study about a difficult pediatric advocacy case that year. She will be a featured speaker at the 2014 NAHAC conference. Dr. Zorrilla lives in Houston, Texas, and also volunteers her time in low-income clinics with Spanish speaking children. Each of her clients is mentored on self-advocacy skills.

So what does Karen win? To further her commitment to her clients and growing her business, her Premium membership in the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates will be extended an extra year, she will have the right to use the winner’s logo in her marketing, and we will issue press releases to her local media to advise them of her award.

Learn more about the Schueler Patient Advocacy Award, the attributes the selection committee reviewed, and while you’re at it, consider applying for next year’s award. We’ll begin reminders next Fall.

Once again, and on behalf of the selection committee – congratulations, Karen!

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