I started my company, patientnavigator.com, after 22 years in the U.S. State Department (see the Second Acts article in More's March 2011 issue) and frequently get inquiries from people who want to become a health advocate, medical mentor, or cancer coach. Here is some of what I've learned about how to get into this line of business:
Most of us who do this work come to it through our own experiences dealing with the health care or elder care system (whether as a patient, caregiver, nurse, social worker, etc.) There is no specific background or education that is required. I have found that a passion for helping others, good research, communication, interpersonal and organizational skills as well as the ability to be creative in finding resources and solving problems are what it takes.
I am currently talking with possible navigators from across the U.S. They will be trained more formally at a later date, but for now, I am evaluating each person individually on what skills and experience (professional, personal and life experience) they can offer. I think that collectively, we need to get started to define this industry moving forward.
My goal is that Patient Navigator, LLC will be the company that creates the standards and leads the way.I am planning a “virtual meeting” with the nearly 40 people who have contacted me since the publication of the Parade magazine article March 29. To learn more, please contact us here.