How Do I Advocate for Myself was written and posted by Kathleen Hoffman on Medivizor on 27 September 2016 and contains some wonderful suggestions and insights.

from-both-endsKathleen Thompson, MD is a physician specializing in pharmaceutical drug research in the UK.  A breast cancer survivor, Kathleen is the author of “From Both Ends of the Stethoscope: Getting Through Breast Cancer – by a Doctor Who Knows.”

As she says: “Should we challenge our doctor? After all they are the experts, surely they know best?  Well yes, usually they do, but we are the experts about ourselves.”

On her list of ideas and resources, she recommends:

  • Take someone with you
  • Increase your level of knowledge
  • Understand your self worth

A quick assertiveness course:

  • If you need something, speak out
  • Your needs are as important as everyone else’s needs
  • Make yourself speak a little  slower and louder than normal
  • If you are unclear about what you are being told, request further explanations until you are confident you understood – do not leave until you are sure
  • Be polite but firm


stephaniecroppedStephanie Zimmerman is a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner, a childhood cancer survivor who, at age 38, needed a heart transplant due to damage caused by the cancer treatment.

Advocating for oneself in the hospital is challenging, Stephanie says, because of

  • inadequate staffing despite the ever-increasing complexity of most clinical scenarios
  • the introduction of hospitalists
  • an increase in the number of nursing assistants, coupled with
  • a relative lack of adequate education taking on nursing practice with less than optimal supervision

These administrative, money-saving,  trends impact the quality of care provided in hospitals.  Because of this, Stephanie believes that you should never leave a loved one alone in the hospital.  In addition she recommends these strategies for successful inpatient advocacy on the part of a family members, friends, and providers:

  • Kindness
  • Honest communications
  • Self control amidst (at times) great frustration
  • Gratitude
  • Apologies
  • Know your resources
  • Anticipate scenarios based on past experiences


Read more:  How Do I Advocate for Myself?

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