Medical advocacy: how to speak up for yourself.


Patient burnout is valid. Those with chronic illnesses or chronic pain can attest to medical advocacy difficulty. It takes time, practice, and sometimes heartache to learn how to advocate for yourself in a healthcare setting. If you want to learn how to advocate for yourself, the points to remember are that you know your own body, you should try to write symptoms and anything pertinent down and don’t be afraid to disagree.

You know your own body

Your doctor does not know about your experience. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself. It is wise to bring someone with you if you find it difficult to communicate your experiences effectively. Doctors have years of experience, but they also understand that you have your own experiences. Their job is to guide you toward the right treatment. If you don’t know what to ask for, support groups can help. Even doctors cannot read minds, and that’s okay.

Try to write symptoms and anything pertinent down

Anyone who has dealt with seeking a treatment plan for a long-term illness can attest that you won’t remember everything when you’re in the doctor’s office. Writing down information can help jog your memory and come up with what to say in the doctor’s office. Even if a support person also writes things down, it makes a difference. Keeping track of changes in your symptoms and having a written record of your medical history can be invaluable when discussing your treatment plan with your doctor. It can help you to provide a comprehensive overview of your condition, and ensure that you and your doctor are on the same page.

Don’t be afraid to disagree

A doctor can usually only make an educated guess unless they run tests. It’s okay if you disagree with a guess. If you have a history of symptoms happening, compare it to something else, etc., it’s okay to disagree. Studying what your symptoms mean isn’t wrong. It doesn’t make you a hypochondriac. Some degree of “health anxiety” is not unwarranted in some situations.



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