Advocate for yourself

May 29, 2022
3 min read

Contrary to popular belief, engaging with healthcare can be a very challenging and overwhelming experience. Navigating a healthcare system that was not designed with us in mind – to say the least – often leaves us confused, unheard, and exhausted. But your health is precious and receiving the medical care you deserve is paramount. We all have to become advocates for our own health. What’s a health advocate you ask? A health advocate is someone who takes an active role in their own health and participates their healthcare decisions. Advocating for yourself and your health can be challenging but it should be a priority and we at Hutano have some tips to get you started.

Build trust with your healthcare professional.Having a GP/family physician that you can trust and rely on for your healthcare needs is essential. We know all too well that not all healthcare professionals will have an approach that suits and that can be an important consideration in your choice of care. However, like with any type of partnership, building trust and understanding takes time and will rely on your willingness, as a patient, to be honest, and vulnerable. By taking an active role in engaging with the healthcare professionals in charge of your care, you can have the advantage of having more input in the decisions that impact your health.

Do some reading. The best type of patient is an informed patient. Understanding your own health can be a challenge. Especially when the Internet and social media are flooded with questionable – sometimes dangerous – health advice. If you look in the right places, there is a wealth of information that can help strengthen your health literacy and make informed decisions about your health. There is an important caveat though: Any reading you do is not meant to replace your doctor or their clinical experience. Rather, use it as a way to empower yourself to ask questions and make choices that are right for you.

Ask questions.You may have noticed that we slipped this statement in the last tip. That’s because it’s an important one. Many of us skin folk have been raised in cultures where asking questions of our elders or health practitioners can be perceived as disrespectful. And so, we have learned to remain silent despite our confusion. Never be afraid to ask questions, and make sure to understand the information that you have been given.

Make another appointment.Unfortunately, even the best physician faces time and resource constraints and sometimes that can result in a very short, sometimes unrewarding appointment for both parties. If you find that your appointment was too short to address all your concerns, you can always book another one or request a longer appointment. This will give you and your doctor more time to discuss the symptoms, problems or concerns you would like to express.

Make sure it’s in the chart.This last one is for those moments when you feel that you are not receiving the care you deserve. If you feel that you have made a complaint or voiced a concern that is being ignored, you can specifically request that this be written in your chart. Every healthcare professional is required to document every clinical interaction and medical decision they have made on behalf of their patients, and they must be able to justify those actions. By making such a request, you may get a better explanation of their decisions or even notice changes being made to your care.There you have it! Hopefully, these five tips will get you starting on a journey to becoming your own health advocate. Health is a precious resource and we all must take an active role in preserving it for ourselves.

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