Ceke2002

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So long story short, due to governmental changes to University fee schedules I have had to reluctantly drop out of my Pre-Psychology program (and hence my planned degree). It's not exactly something I'm thrilled about, but on the positive side the city my husband and I are moving to has a number of potential paid, and volunteer employment positions for people with a lived experience of mental health issues to train as patient advocates and peer support workers.

I'll be talking to the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist in Adelaide, and in Melbourne to seek advice on how to best enter and work in this field, but I also wanted to hear from you guys as well, seeing as I value your opinions and expertise.

If you've ever worked with a patient advocate, what were some of the positives and negatives that you observed, including any potential mistakes that were made, and how do you think a patient advocate can best work with a physician provider to try and ensure a good working alliance and best possible outcome for the patients themselves?
 

OldPsychDoc

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The good ones are committed to a patient's well-being, and come in as a teammate with the docs, case managers, etc. They want to collaborate, for the patient's benefit, and acknowledge that that is your goal as well.
The bad ones have an ax to grind against the system and come at you like a prosecuting attorney, looking for anything that you or anyone else might be doing to screw up. Their own agenda sometimes overshadows the patient's needs.
 

WisNeuro

Board Certified Neuropsychologist
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The good ones are committed to a patient's well-being, and come in as a teammate with the docs, case managers, etc. They want to collaborate, for the patient's benefit, and acknowledge that that is your goal as well.
The bad ones have an ax to grind against the system and come at you like a prosecuting attorney, looking for anything that you or anyone else might be doing to screw up. Their own agenda sometimes overshadows the patient's needs.
The latter kind seem to flock to the VA system.
 
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in my experience, some of the most helpful advocates were those who would help with case-manager-y type things when needed- like helping clients answer questions about insurance, medicaid, navigating that sort of thing-- and helping to get them actually plugged in with and attending other needed services (often those that were closer to their home so they would be more likely to go, and problem solving things like applying for reduced fare bus passes, etc).
 

MacDonaldTriad

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The best employees with learned experience realize that they have crossed over the line to provider and help do the best we can with what we have. The worst ones think their role is to "advocate" by adding their voice to those of the service recipients in rattling the cage of the establishment. Ceke, I know you are mature enough to know this, but if you join a treatment team where some of the peer advocates aren't aware of this, use your leadership to teach them the way the world works. Best of luck with your new direction. I'm confident you will have a lot to offer.
 

thoffen

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A good patient advocate can be a great resource, and I often refer patient/families to them to address concerns. The best will hear concerns of family and set up meetings to address them and can coordinate between multiple disciplines for answers to all questions. The most important thing for patients and families is having the ability to be heard, understood, and for some communication back on the plan regarding their issues, and for this to be done in a human way. Often as a doc I just don't have the availability to do that and concerns relate to unit policies or interactions with staff members that I wasn't directly involved in. A patient advocate can organize these things and make sure that we provide a consistent response. One of the worst things when a patient or family member gets activated is that they induce staff members to cross boundaries (e.g. providing uninformed reassurance, offering explanations for other staff's behavior which they didn't witness, saying they'll address a concern and having it evaporate, breaking or bending policies without understanding the consequences). This can manifest in an actual harm to a patient that is iatrogenic, and a patient with a flimsy alliance with providers is not going to benefit from hearing different things from different people (even if each is well-intended and correct to their knowledge).
 
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Ceke2002

Ceke2002

Purveyor of Strange
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Sep 26, 2009
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Thank you so much for all the helpful replies, and encouragement. You guys are awesome as usual. :) It does sometimes feel as if my journey into working within the mental health care system has just been one disappointment after another (having to accept that certain physical limitations preclude me from entering medicine, starting on the path towards a Psychology degree only to have that come to a screeching halt due to fee scheduling changes)...Working as a patient advocate/lived experience peer support worker, so far, is probably the closest I've come to actually being able to realistically find a niche for myself in the mental health care field. So again, I really do appreciate all of the advice you've given me. :love:
 
Dec 4, 2014
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Thank you so much for all the helpful replies, and encouragement. You guys are awesome as usual. :) It does sometimes feel as if my journey into working within the mental health care system has just been one disappointment after another (having to accept that certain physical limitations preclude me from entering medicine, starting on the path towards a Psychology degree only to have that come to a screeching halt due to fee scheduling changes)...Working as a patient advocate/lived experience peer support worker, so far, is probably the closest I've come to actually being able to realistically find a niche for myself in the mental health care field. So again, I really do appreciate all of the advice you've given me. :love:
And who knows what this next step might turn into or what doors it might open. You're resourceful and open to learning from others' experience and knowledge as well as sharing your own, so no doubt you'll quickly make some great connections. I hope you'll pop in occasionally and let us know how your new adventure is going! I enjoy your thoughtful contributions to this forum. Best of luck!
 
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