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Looking Out for No. 1: How to Be Your Own Best Healthcare Advocate

By Sara Butler

Health in Your Hands

There are many reasons that people love chiropractic care with The Joint Chiropractic. Perhaps one of the biggest is the fact that they actually feel as if the care they receive is a partnership, giving them a voice in their own treatment plan and care.

It’s unfortunate that many people have had bad experiences with other types of healthcare professionals. And while you may feel happy and heard at The Joint, it’s still a good idea to learn how to be an advocate for yourself when it comes to healthcare.

Here are some easy tips you can apply to situations involving healthcare practitioners who you feel aren’t listening to you to make sure you’re getting the care you want and deserve.

Advocating For Yourself: What Does It Mean?

Before you can learn how to advocate for yourself, it’s important to understand what it means to do so and why it’s so important. Advocating for yourself means that you work toward a goal on behalf of yourself. In a healthcare setting, it’s taking action to get your needs and concerns addressed when you interact with healthcare professionals.

Remember, you have the right to get quality, compassionate care that addresses your concerns. You know your body best, after all, and deserve to have an experience in which you feel heard when interacting with healthcare providers.

Tips to Self-Advocate

There are many scenarios in which advocating for yourself is useful and needed, such as requesting more information about a medication or procedure, looking for a new healthcare provider, or even disagreeing with a diagnosis (respectfully). Here are a few tips on how to be the best advocate for yourself:

Trust yourself - No one knows your body better than you -- no one. When you’re discussing your health with providers, you need to keep in mind that you have the important information they need. You know the problems you may be having or the changes you are noticing, so trust your experience and be forthcoming and honest when talking about it. Don’t doubt your own experience!

Prepare yourself - You may have limited time with a provider, so make sure to do all the prep work you can beforehand to make the most of it. Be ready to give a rundown of family history that may be applicable to the situation and lifestyle factors that may be important, such as exercise or intake of alcohol, and be sure to include a list of medications you take. Gather all the info you need and bring notes with you if you need to, notes that include questions you might have for them.

Ask questions - Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Prepping a list of questions beforehand can help you to hit all the points you think are important and help you to keep things on track to address the issues you think are most important.

Bring someone - If you feel you need support, feel free to bring a friend or loved one with you to help you feel more comfortable. Talk with them about what you need and what you want out of the visit beforehand; they may be able to help lend a hand to keep your appointment on track.

Document it - Sure, it may seem a bit strange to take notes on your visit with the provider, but it’s a good habit to make since many people have issues recalling exactly what was talked about during a visit to a healthcare provider. If you don’t want to write things down, then use your smartphone to make a recording of the visit. Also, request any copies of tests or lab results for your own records; it’s handy to have in case you need to find a different provider or you want a second opinion.

Remind yourself why you’re there - It’s your body and it’s your life, so if you need time at the appointment to process the information you’re given, then take it. If you want the opinion of another provider, get it. Healthcare practitioners are like everyone else in that they want to do their best but they may simply not be a good fit for you -- and that’s OK. If you feel uncomfortable, then communicate that.

At the end of the day, you should feel heard and respected by the healthcare practitioners you’re putting your trust into. If you don’t feel that way, then it’s time to move on and find another. Your health is worth it!

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