As a patient advocate in private practice, especially if you are a solo practitioner, it can get lonely to be the only one who really understands what your work life is like. Believe me – I know this! I’ve been self-employed, working from home, since 2001.
No coffee pot convergence early in the morning. No water cooler chat. No one in the employee break room, or popping over to my desk to say, “Let’s grab lunch!”
No distractions (welcome or otherwise.) No commiserating. Just me, my phone, my computer, and… silence.
Yes. If that’s your situation, too, then I get it.
Some of you are reading this thinking, “Oh my! Sounds like heaven!” But if that’s what you’re thinking, you probably haven’t worked for years at home by yourself 🙂
Truth be told – I love it. It fits me. I get a LOT done! And when I walk away from my desk in the late afternoon, I have often crossed many tasks off my list.
But there is one HUGE (and I do mean HUGE) downside to this sort of work environment. That is….
No one to rub elbows with on an easy, informal, or regular basis. At least no one who understands our advocacy and care management work. There might be people around (partner, kids, neighbors)… but they don’t understand advocacy.
And that, frankly, can become a detriment to your work unless you seek ways to fill that void.
Since you can’t snap your fingers and instantly populate your neighborhood with additional solo practitioners like yourself, then it’s important you seek other sorts of opportunities to rub elbows with like-minded professionals. There are a handful of reasons for this:
- It would be impossible for one person to always have all the answers or resources needed for every client. We all need to form connections because we need access to folks who will be able to assist us when needed.
- Things change. Whether its policy, or politics, or process, or attitudes, or people, or possibilities… things change. Rubbing elbows with the people who are aware of, and understand the changes is paramount.
- New information becomes available. New resources come to light, or ways to save money, or even businesses or people to avoid – how will you know those things unless others share them with you? Or – maybe you are the person with the new information, and it becomes important for you to share it with others.
- … and others.
Health advocacy as a profession is still relatively new – about 10 years. I do think it’s remarkable that there have been as many opportunities as there have been for those of us with common interests to come together, to convene as professionals, as there have been. NAHAC used to have an annual, then a bi-annual conference. APHA has held several workshops and summits annually across the US since 2011.
Which brings me to the meat of today’s post: Three possibilities for those who understand the need to rub elbows.Two upcoming in-person opportunities with like-minded, interesting, and resourceful advocacy professionals.And a third one that is personal, but not in-person.
The first one is the ICOPA: International Conference on Patient Advocacy Great agenda, plenty of networking time, some wonderful sponsors… and inexpensive, too. Check it out: www.ICOPAConference.com
The second one is the PracticeUP! Online Bootcamp. Another great agenda, plenty of networking time, a small, more intimate group to maximize your ability to make your practice shine! Check it out: https://practiceuponline.com/bootcamps
The third one requires no travel, and little effort, but will easily spark your interest. That is, the Connect! Discussion Forum at APHA. The depth and breadth of discussions can keep everyone’s interest, and many people feel it’s the very best benefit to membership in APHA. Recent conversations have included: BCPA – Certification Exam information, Air Ambulances, Dental Billing, Ann Curry Live Show, Medicare – Home Hospice Help, Christian Health “shares”, and others. If you want to participate in those conversations, log in if you are an APHA member. and join APHA if you aren’t.
Successful professionals understand the importance of networking and tapping into the support others can provide. I hope to see you participate in one, two, or all three of these possibilities – both your elbows ready to rub!
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