Radiate Wellness Logo

The Power of Self Advocacy in Your Healthcare

Jul 28, 2020

Here in the United States, navigating the healthcare system can be difficult. Premiums and insurance bills are getting more expensive, and appointment times with providers feel shorter with each visit, leaving many of us feeling helpless and discouraged.To help bridge the gap between what you feel like you should be getting out of your health care and what you’re actually getting, let’s discuss 3 key tools for becoming a better self advocate and an active participant in your care.

Tool #1: Know what you want from each visit

As we age and go through different seasons in life, our needs change. This means we also need different things from our healthcare team over time. This might involve finding new providers or having a conversation with your current team to communicate your needs and expectations about your care. Don’t forget that choosing a new provider is like any other interview process – you’re interviewing them to make sure that they’re a good fit for you and will be able to help you meet your goals. Then, at each visit, have a specific goal or outcome you’d like to achieve and clearly communicate that with your practitioner. So instead of going in and saying “I have this problem, how can you help?”, come up with some specific questions you have about what’s happening and how to find a resolution. Determining what it is you want answered and what you want to walk away from the appointment with will help set you up to be an active participant in your care and treatment plan, so that you don’t walk away feeling like it was a one way conversation or that you were steamrolled with unhelpful information. And while preparation is key, you also need to shift your mindset around your role within the team – you are as much a member of the team as anyone else; after all, you are the expert of your own body! Knowing that you can steer the conversation where you want it to go is a powerful thing.

Tool #2: Lab literacy

One thing that has been extremely useful for my clients is helping them understand and learn which labs to request, and also how to read and interpret their lab results. Depending on your symptoms, you may need to request testing that isn’t on a normal or routine panel. When it comes to your results, it’s important to understand the difference between the standard lab ranges and functional lab ranges. Standard ranges are based on the averages of the people who get the labs done, and therefore don’t necessarily reflect optimal wellness, so understanding the functional ranges will help reveal where you need further support to feel your best. This is where working with functional practitioners can be really beneficial to help get your numbers into a more optimal range, but having this knowledge can also help you have more engaging conversations with conventional doctors.

Tool #3: Find practitioners that are willing to look at you as an integrated person

You are not your diagnosis, or your symptoms. These are just part of the bigger picture that is you as a whole person, and your experiences! How the different systems of the body are interrelated and how they work together is something I always try to teach my clients. Once you’re able to see yourself as integrated and get a glimpse of how everything is working together, you’ll be better equipped to identify practitioners that are using that same type of language. So if you find yourself being treated just like a symptom, or a diagnosis, or if you are being treated over and over again but there is no follow up about your diet and lifestyle, this may be a red flag and a sign that your provider isn’t seeing the whole picture.

So there you have it, my 3 main tools for becoming a better self advocate within the context of our healthcare system:

1. Be prepared, have outcomes that you really want to get out of each session, and make sure that you get your goals addressed and your desires met in that office visit or call.

2. Become familiar with examining your labs and tracking trends over time.

3. Lastly, really coming to this idea of seeing yourself as an integrated body, so that you are able to look for practitioners that also see you that way.

With these in your toolbox, the hope is that you’ll be able to attract practitioners that are able to help you, your goals, and your health, but also that you begin to put yourself in the driver’s seat. This is no small thing, when we’re talking about really caring for ourselves and building a team around us that’s going to advocate for us as well. As always, if you have any questions or need more support around navigating your care, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m always happy to chat.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Hi, I’m Frankie
Becoming a Functional Nutritionist was born out of my love of working in women’s health and my own health crisis that hit in 2011. It was then that I realized that the body cannot be taken for granted. With two cancer scares in one year, I decided to take my health into my own hands, guided by the intelligence of functional medicine. As a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, I use data and mindfulness techniques to motivate change. My client relationships are filled with loving connections and precise planning.

Keep In Touch

Top Posts

Gut-Brain Connection

Have you ever found yourself saying you have a “gut feeling” about something? Or maybe you’ve experienced “butterflies in your stomach”? These common phrases actually have some basis in science and help showcase the connection between our gut and our brain....

Put Yourself In The Driver’s Seat

Put yourself in the driver's seat when it comes to stress. Understanding stress is the first important step to dealing with it. Many of us think stress happens to us, similar to the quote, “Life is happening to me.” Flip the script and put it another way; life is...

How To Own Your Health Because It Belongs To You

How can you own your health? You're responsible for it, so why not own it? This message is getting lost in the slew of things that are going on in the world right now. It can feel like a place full of a lot of fear where we can feel paralyzed as to what to do. And...

Ready For A New Approach To Your Healthcare?

Have you ever felt discouraged leaving a doctor’s appointment? Maybe you felt bothered by the lack of time a doctor spent in the room with you, or perhaps you didn’t feel heard because the nurses and physicians were rushing through the appointment, talking at you, and...

Love Your Liver

Did you know the liver is responsible for over 500 daily functions? That’s right, this single organ has a lot on its “To Do” list. A few of these functions are to store vitamins and iron and convert stored sugar to usable sugar when the body’s levels fall below...

Cooking For Your Microbiome

When you think about the microbiome, it's important to understand that you can literally change the whole makeup of the gut within 24 hours by just changing your diet. If you are on a high sugar and high carbohydrate diet, within 24 hours of dropping those...

Moving Winter’s Sluggishness in March – part 2

Last time we talked about different vegetables that were starting to show up in the stores and how they can benefit our health. Now let’s talk about some ways to increase the veggies in your diet, but first why do we want to increase veggie intake? This time of year,...

Moving Winter’s Sluggishness in March – part 1

So how do we come out of the winter gracefully with our health in mind? A lot of things can happen to us during the winter months. We can become a little bit more sedentary, a little more sluggish, and we can stop moving as much that we have a downregulation of our...

The Importance of the Endocannabinoid System

The Endocannabinoid System is something that I find extremely important in women’s health. It is a system that we all have but were never educated on. A network of receptors throughout every system of the body that communicate and regulate our body functions. When it...

Making the Most of Your HSA/FSA with Functional Health

I liked her. She was my new PCP (primary care provider) with my new insurance. She was 3 minutes late. Probably not her fault. Most likely coming in from another back-to-back scheduling. She was kind, calm and attentive.  She listened as I rattled off a bit about my...
Call Now Button