5 Ways to Improve Your Patient Advocacy Skills

1 Mar 2021 Anne Marie Fogarty

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Five tips on how to be a good patient advocate.


Advocacy is not always the easiest thing to do; sometimes, it is hard to understand why a patient may refuse a particular medication, management of their condition or procedure. You are aware of how much medical evidence is out there, you know the best way forward for their care plan, but sometimes the patient may have religious or cultural beliefs that deny them certain care, treatments, or procedures. Alternatively, they simply may refuse the care offered.

Advocacy involves speaking up for patient’s welfare, being their voice and always working in their best interests. Advocacy is a complex and intriguing element of quality medical care, but what happens when the patient refuses the care they need. This is where advocacy can get tough.


  1. You want the best for your patient, but sometimes, that means respecting their rights. Sometimes, respecting the patients’ beliefs and help other staff to understand them is the best way forward.
  2. You are the patient’s voice-use it wisely and always in the best interest of the patient. You do not need to agree with their decisions all the time, but you must respect them.
  3. Know your resources – your hospital, clinic or other healthcare systems probably have many resources on offer to patients they may be unaware of. It is good to be mindful of what is available, from social workers to pastoral care.
  4. The more support you can be to the patient with managing their disease, care plan, medication, or anything else that will enhance their quality of life, the better you are doing at being a patient advocate.
  5. Be the voice for those that do not have one.


A lot of patient advocacy skill improvement involves fewer changes but more confidence in existing skills. Do not be afraid to speak out, rely on other team members, and keep on doing what is in the patient’s best interests.

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