As the Center for Patient Partnerships enters its second decade of operation, the health/patient advocacy movement in the U.S. is beginning to come of age. When the CPP was founded in 2001, there was only one other program educating for advocacy at the graduate level – the Master’s in Health Advocacy at Sarah Lawrence College. Since then, patient advocacy has grown dramatically, and numerous education and training programs now exist around the country.
At the same time, various professional associations for advocates are forming, and federal funding combined with local innovation have catalyzed the proliferation of Medical-Legal Partnerships and Patient Navigator programs nationwide. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is now accelerating growth of both the advocacy profession and advocacy education because it mandates new consumer protection initiatives and allocates new funding to support ombudsmen and navigators.
The growth of advocacy education and an emerging federal commitment to patient protection highlight growing recognition of an essential role for health advocates. However, key issues remain unresolved, including exactly what these advocates ought to do, how they should be trained, and what perspective on patient/provider relationships will guide their work.
After a decade refining our own educational model and approach to partnering with patients seeking advocacy assistance, the Center is ready to actively engage these questions about the future of the patient advocacy field and to broaden our own role within it. Our second decade of operation will therefore include not only extending the advocacy and educational practices at the heart of our mission, but also a range of new initiatives connected to systemic change and broader impact. They include:
- Making the Center’s unique educational program available to students around the country via our new e-learning curriculum
- Documenting the impact of advocacy services on patients through evaluation, field research, and synthesis of existing empirical studies
- Extending the Center’s curriculum to more strongly emphasize system-level advocacy
- Building on nascent efforts to connect health/patient advocates, and advocacy educators, nationwide
- Enhancing the capacity of patients to influence state and federal health policy, and the responsiveness of the health care system to consumers’ experiences
Dr. Rachel Grob, our new Scholar in Residence and Director of National Initiatives, comes to the Center from Sarah Lawrence College, where she has been associate Dean of Graduate Studies for the past eight years and has taught in the Health Advocacy Program for the past twelve. Our Staff page provides more information about Dr. Grob.
Dr. Mark Schlesinger, Visiting Scholar at the Center for the summer and fall of 2011, is professor of health policy and a fellow in the Institution of Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. Our Staff page provides more information about Dr. Schlesinger.
Dr. Kathleen O’Connell, our new Director of Educational Development, comes to the Center from the University of Wisconsin (UW) School of Medicine and Public Health/Department of Medicine where her responsibilities included curriculum development and oversight of the post-graduate medical education curriculum for the internal medicine residency and fellowships. She is leading our new e-learning initiative. Our Staff page provides more information about Dr. O’Connell.