Health AdvocatePeople of the community who may or may not have access to appropriate health care services can turn to a Health Advocate who focuses on such population segments for support. A Health Advocate can opt to primarily focus on a single parent household to make sure that the primary caregiver and the children visit a physician on a regular basis regardless if the family has no health insurance policy with very little financial funds to support medication and the physician check-ups. Some advocates choose to deal basically with older patients or persons living together with individuals sick with AIDS or HIV or people with chronic and permanent disabilities.
The Health Advocate can function in diverse ways which make working in the field more exciting. An advocate is often involved in shelling out important information to various clients in the private and public aspects. An advocate can teach a diabetic client for example the differences between simple and complex carbohydrates, know how to maintain a balanced nutrition and food portions, and the role of daily exercise as a part of the ongoing health regimen.
Advocates can wish to work in any setting or area of the health care system such as hospitals or functioning as a liaison between the hospital and the community. He or she can opt to be a part of a community health agency such as free clinic. Health Advocates are also being employed by insurance companies to help in evaluating the claims filed by the clients. Since the specific duties are dependent on the type of position handled, there is no doubt that a Health Advocate can be as versatile as can be.
The role of a Health Advocate is to assist members of a particular community with their problems and to find solutions for those that are related to health care as well as their health insurance needs; they can also locate and research on all the latest treatments for a medical conditions, give second opinions to help enrich peace of mind, do initial check-up on clients or refer them to specialists; and obtain information on health in an unbiased way.
To become a Health Advocate you have to have a college degree. Community medicine specialists who choose to practice as health advocates have a far greater edge in this field compared to others who do not have medical science-related courses. There are certain colleges who do offer programs on health advocacy, but mostly, degrees in specializations are more accepted. Among the companies that specialize in health advocacy is the National Patient Advocate Foundation which employs Health Advocates to assure that every client is given the chance to make informed decisions regarding healthcare for them. Hospitals and clinics do employ health advocates as a part of the staff to work as liaisons. Even with advanced knowledge regarding patients and their basic unit, every Health Advocate must enhance his or her knowledge and skills by attending relevant training programs.
The United States has just recently launched a wake up call for the nation’s public health workforce. Federal funding was increased in 2002 for everything that concerned public health. Public Health Advocates are now in high demand with various advancement opportunities. Annual salary ranges from $37,050 to $ 161,400.