Networking Beyond Business: Why Patient Advocacy Plays A Role In Creating A Strong Network

When we think about networking the first thing that comes to mind is usually business, but that’s not the only purpose of networking. Networking is about building a team–a winning team. In order to have a winning team, you want to recruit the best players available that align with your morals and goals. I couldn’t imagine having a winning team that didn’t include physicians I trust. 

With the continued Covid-19 coverage, one thing that has been talked about more than in the past is health disparities in communities of color, which has led to more conversations about medical mistrust. Having worked in health I’ve been on both sides of the conversation. I’ve worked with doctors to understand why the disparities exist and how to bridge the gaps and I’ve talked with patients to understand their concerns and educate them on how to advocate for themselves. 

One very key point in patient advocacy is finding doctors that you feel comfortable with, that care for you beyond the examination room, and that you trust. In a lot of ways, finding a doctor that fits is like dating. You don’t always find your perfect match on the first try, but it’s important to know that you DO have the opportunity for multiple tries. What many patients don’t know is that in many instances you can schedule appointments with doctors just to talk and feel them out. You call the hospital the same way you would if you had an issue and ask to schedule a time to meet with a doctor you’re thinking about seeing in the future. These visits can often be covered by insurance and how many times you can do this depends on your coverage and provider. 

It’s important, to me, that patients know they have options. You don’t have to stick with a doctor because your family goes to them or out of convenience. You deserve to have a winning team in all areas of your life and you have the power to create that with your healthcare providers.

Yesterday, I had an encounter with my dentist that left me speechless. I received a call from her office, that I answered, to remind me of an upcoming appointment. I confirmed the appointment and was about to hang up when I realized I don’t currently have dental insurance. I stopped her from hanging up and let her know that I actually wouldn’t be able to make it because I’m currently uninsured. Her reply is what got me: “That’s not a good reason to miss your treatment–we’ll handle it.” THIS!! This is what I’ve been talking about when I tell patients it’s important to have an all-star team across the board. I knew my dentist was amazing before this encounter but this conversation, for me, solidified what I knew and showed me that I wasn’t just a number–I matter.

Finding my dentist, just like my other doctors, was trial and error. I have some dental horror stories that cost me unnecessary money and pain, but I didn’t stay with those providers. Now, because I have this dentist in my network, the people around me have this dentist in their network as well. I share her with everyone because I know she’ll take care of them the way she’s taken care of me. I have full confidence in her as one of the members of my winning team and with all of the friends and family I’ve sent her way she’s never dropped the ball. 

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