Advocates are highly skilled communicators and coaches. They address situations constructively, without blame, to help all parties find resolution. In some cases, they help hospital colleagues understand how certain behaviors and words can create misperceptions for patients.
Although the work can be exhausting, being an advocate can be a rewarding career.
The advocates have diverse backgrounds. Olutola was a high school Spanish teacher and has a master’s degree in health services administration. DeMott worked in corrections. Sherman worked in billing before becoming a patient advocate in 1997. Smith has almost 30 years advocating for patients here at UF Health Shands. Meiring credits Kittrell as “the glue that holds the team together.”
Smith says the work is “never boring!” Teammates handle pressures of the job by providing mutual support. They all feel revived when they get to solve a problem.
An example: When a patient had been denied an electric wheelchair by their insurance provider, Sherman and DeMott arranged for a chair donated to the hospital to be gifted to the delighted patient.
Ginn is in awe of the team. “They are compassionate, patient and resourceful. And their resilience is what enables them to do this difficult work every day.”