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Self-Advocacy in Healthcare Settings

What about those who can't?

I'm a well-spoken, thoughtful, self-aware adult with lots of education and a strong understanding of my rights. I've been to numerous healthcare providers with positive results, and was blindsided when I nearly let a medical professional push his agenda on me earlier this year.

In short this person was rude, uncaring, unkind, and condescending. He shared inappropriate information about other patients, treated his office staff poorly, and after asking what I did for work felt it necessary to make derogatory statements about disabled people. He pushed medication that I neither needed nor wanted (I never filled the prescriptions), and insisted on a procedure that after consulting with another provider I discovered was completely unwarranted.

Once I got up my gumption I cancelled the appointment I felt so bullied into making, and then received personal texts from this "professional" trying to guilt me into seeing him instead of another medical provider.

It has taken nearly six months to unwrap my experience, file a complaint with the State, and put these thoughts into words. After making the choice to stand up for myself I felt immediate waves of both relief and fear. I live in a small community and was afraid of bumping into this person during my everyday life ... I was also afraid that he would contact me again.

In addition to my own fear of social discomfort I was struck by immense feelings of dismay and worry for people who don't have strong self-advocacy skills. As I said, I know my rights. I speak English fluently. I am a strong, independent-minded person. And I almost fell into this person's trap.

What about people who don't know their rights? Don't speak English? Don't speak at all? What about people who are afraid? People who automatically defer to authority figures? Or those who don't have a circle of support to talk to about these experiences?

I don't have answers - I only know these thoughts are terrifying. Please help me share resources about advocating in healthcare settings - put your thoughts in the comments, email me at, or text or call me at 760-648-0512.

a mouth open wide with dental instruments inside
a mouth open wide with dental instruments inside

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