Trisha Torrey

Trisha Torrey is the founder and executive director of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates. Find her resume here.

The Myth of Patient Advocacy Certification

certified patient advocates

This post, originally written in January 2011, was accurate at the time; there was no universally recognized patient advocacy certification. That changed in early 2018 when the first certification exam was offered by the Patient Advocate Certification Board. As of June 2021, there are currently 889 BCPA certified advocates. Find updated information at the end of the post. (Updated: June 2021) I hear frequently from people asking about certification for patient advocates. It’s confusing, because they read that there are courses that will help them become certified, and then they find other pieces I have written about the lack of …

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Enough is Enough! Helping Elderly Patients Make Decisions

One of our AdvoConnection members, Ken Schueler, shared a favorite article of his, published in JAMA a couple of years ago, and a good reminder of one of our roles as patient advocates. Written by Dr. Jennifer M. Soyke, it tells about an elderly patient named Lisa who passed away from Genug Syndrome. (Unfortunately, JAMA requires a subscription to read this piece in its entirety, so please forgive paraphrasing here – but I think you’ll get the point…) Never heard of Genug Syndrome? You won’t find it in the medical literature.

What’s the Difference Between a Patient Advocate and a Geriatric Care or Case Manager?

One of our APHA members asked me about these differences a day or two ago… So I thought I would share my reply with you. She had called on a nursing home to see if they had interest in recommending her services to the families of some of its residents. The nursing home director replied that they had a team of geriatric case managers they worked with – and asked what services she, the patient advocate, could provide that GCMs could not. Since she really couldn’t come up with a useful answer, she asked me if I knew the differences …

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Is a Patient Advocate or Navigator a Qualified Medical Expense for Patients?

In the process of writing about Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) I began looking at what constituted a “qualified medical expense,” which is the list of the products and services the IRS lets us pay for tax-free. They are those expenses that we can either claim on our taxes, or pay for through the use of an HSA, MSA or FSA. (What would the IRS ever do without acronyms> But I digress…) After looking at the list of expenses, I began to wonder whether a patient / taxpayer who hires and pays for a health or …

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Why Can’t Patients Be Their Own Advocates?

Imagine – you suffer chest pains and are swept off to the ER. The pain meds leave you too groggy to make good decisions. Who will help you? Or – difficult symptoms result in a diagnosis that leaves you stunned. You leave the doctor’s office remembering very little of what you’ve been told. Now you aren’t even sure what to do next. Or – you’ve begun to find it confusing to keep track of all your medications. You’re concerned you’ll make a mistake. Which ones are you supposed to take with food? Or on an empty stomach? What about having …

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Dear Nurses, We Are Here to Help

For the second time in just a few days, I’ve learned from an AdvoConnection advocate member that a nurse has become defensive and territorial in reaction to his choice of career. Now, please know that I’m not dogging on all nurses. Not all all. Instead I’m looking at this as an opportunity to clarify – for everyone’s benefit, not just nurses’. Last week I answered the question, “Does a patient advocate have to be a nurse?” The question came in response to an experience where nurses had actually looked down their noses at another advocate, a non-nurse, suggesting she did …

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Do I Have to Be a Nurse to Be a Patient Advocate?

The answer is simple. No. So why do I ask this question? Earlier this month, while attending the NAHAC Conference, the question was asked by a number of people. As if the qualification to be an effective patient advocate relied on a nursing education. Now please don’t get me wrong. I am a huge supporter of nurses and nursing, in its many important forms. I’ve written many times at About.com about nurses, nurse practitioners, and why I believe training as a nurse is far more patient-centered than other forms of medical training. Most of my commentary comes from my appreciation …

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