As healthcare providers’ roles evolve, so does the way in which they deliver care. Care delivery is moving away from a “disease-centered model” and toward a “patient-centered model.”

In the patient-centered model, patients are more active participants in their own care and receive services designed to focus on their individual needs and preferences. In addition, patients receive advice and counsel from health professionals who are more mindful, informed and empathetic to the patient’s needs. The patient-centered model is designed to improve the quality of personal, professional and organizational relationships. Learning the skill of self-advocacy is an important part of patient-centered care as well.

Self-advocacy is possessing the skill and ability to articulate your personal needs in various settings, such as in healthcare. In healthcare, as we have learned, patients have rights. They have rights to:

Learning to advocate for yourself in healthcare is an essential skill for every patient and can be difficult to become comfortable with. Here are some tips to become an advocate for yourself in healthcare:

  1. Be in tune with your body. Prior to your appointment, write down what is going on with your health and any issues you may be having. Bring this with you as a guide. If an aspect of your health changes, make note of it.
  2. Come prepared. Write down any questions you may have. Spend some time thinking through these questions and invite a trusted adult to help you. Bring these questions with you to your appointment in case you forget.
  3. Create a support system. Bring a trusted friend or family member to any appointment which you may receive a lot of information. Have this family member keep notes of what is said in the appointment because it can be easy to forget.
  4. Pay attention to your medical records. Usually, you can reference your physician’s notes after an appointment. Compare your notes with the notes of the physician. If something is confusing, call the doctor or use your patient portal to email your doctor.
  5. Second opinions are permissible. If something feels off or you feel like you did not get appropriate care, you can see another doctor. Doctors do not always agree on diagnosis or treatment. It is your body, and it is fine to seek another opinion.
  6. Ask questions in the moment. If a healthcare provider talks too quickly or you do not understand something that was said, ask. Healthcare providers have a responsibility to help you understand what they are communicating.

  1. Team Response: In addition to the above patient rights, what other rights can you think of that would be appropriate for a patient?

  2. Team Response: Reflect back on the Meet Melissa assignment. List some ways in which Melissa practiced self-advocacy throughout her story.

  3. On Your Own: Consider many ways a patient can self-advocate. Which of those would be challenging for you? Which options do you think you handle well?

  4. On Your Own: Healthcare is centered around the patient. Explain why you think self-advocacy is important for patients to practice.