Navigating the world of insurance can be overwhelming and confusing, even for healthcare professionals themselves. As a senior patient advocate at a federally qualified health clinic in North Philadelphia, I have developed new skills that have allowed me to better serve the patients at my clinic.
As a senior patient advocate, I am responsible for connecting patients 50 and older to any resources that can improve their health. This can include many different resources and programs, so I am constantly searching for new ways to provide my patients with the answers they are searching for. My role as an advocate has developed a sense of creativity that I have not been allowed in previous roles. Being creative brings new solutions to seemingly impossible problems and brings better care to the patients I am helping.
Many patients I interact with are uninsured, so I work with them to find and apply for a health insurance they are most comfortable with. By working so closely with health insurance I have been able to recognize the gaps this system still has, and better understand why patients are often too overwhelmed to apply for Medicare or Medicaid themselves (even the names are difficult to keep straight). By developing resilience, I am better equipped to tackle the weaknesses within the healthcare system and connect more patients with coverage, which promotes increased access to the resources they need.
The last skill I have developed in my service thus far is also the most important. Working in a center that emphasizes trauma informed care and provides training on the sanctuary model has developed a stronger sense of compassion in my life. Although I already considered myself a compassionate person, incorporating trauma informed care into my role has deepened my ability to empathize with my patients. By taking the time to understand a patient's background I am able to understand what type of care they need and how to best coordinate that care. Developing compassion is the key to developing a strong long-term relationship with the community I am serving in.
Although my service term is not over yet, I have already developed skills that I will carry with me well beyond my time with AmeriCorps. I am looking forward to continuing to develop into a stronger healthcare professional throughout the remainder of my time at 11th street.