Lisa Madsen of Denver Area Patient Advocacy talks about her career.  You can find her at www.denverareapatientadvocacy.com.  

What do you do for a living?

I own my own business and am a patient advocate at Denver Area Patient Advocacy.  I started a few months ago so I do it on the side. I am a LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) and also have a couple other part time positions.

How would you describe what you do?

I meet with clients, listen to what they need, brainstorm how to make it happen.  I meet with family members and assess their needs.  I research conditions, treatments and options on line and write up the information in simple language.  I attend appointments and help ask medical professionals questions, I often slow them down so my client understands.  I read past medical records. I help write letters to insurance companies for appeals when patients are denied. I look for resources in the community that could help patients and their families.  I speak to groups in the community to help educate the public.

What does your work entail?

My advocacy job involves many things. Right now I am doing a lot of public speaking to get the word out.  On my cases I attend appointments, write appeal letters to insurance, help find placement, help families w/ resources, treatment options, etc.

What’s a typical work week like?

Typical work week involves marketing, public speaking, and tending to my cases as needed.

How did you get started?

I got started after being an advocate for many family members dealing with autism, breast cancer, prostrate cancer, autoimmune disorders, permanent back injuries, etc. I am very good at it and many folks told me I should go into business.  So I started making a business plan, taking classes, attending the national NAHAC and Advo Connection conference in Nov 2011, and came back and started my company.

What do you like about what you do?

I like helping others through the medical maze to get good results.

What do you dislike?

I do not like working with personality disordered clients or talking about fees.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

I am paid by the hour, if people know they want to employ me for a “chunk” of time  I offer a discount.

How much money do you make?

I discovered advocates, depending where you live, charge anywhere from $60-$200+ per hour.

I charge $100 per hour.

How much money do you make starting out?

The same as above.  I have an hourly rate and it depends on the number of clients I have at a given time, it is slow in the beginning as you need to get the word out.

What education or skills are needed to do this?

I did not attend any certificate program. I am a LCSW and have been for 20 years so all the skillls I have perfected over the years as a social worker are similar to what is needed as an advocate. I also keep up on many on line advocate groups, read a lot and attend monthly webinars on pertinent topics.

What is most challenging about what you do?

Working with difficult clients, navigating different systems, all the social media you are told to be up on and participate in.

What is most rewarding?

Helping others get better, get the care they would not have gotten on their own, sharing knowledge and resources, educating folks.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

You can’t start off full time unless you have income, many of us work a couple of jobs, have a good chunk of change to start up (I needed about 4K, insurance is expensive!), be prepared to not turn a profit for awhile, stay educated, write a business plan, have a business mentor, meet your competition, etc

How much time off do you get/take?

Time off – I always have a get away planned every few months, when I get really busy I will need a back up while I am away.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

Misperception – folks think our services are covered by insurance and don’t like that they have to pay.

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

Goals – Build my business.

What else would you like people to know about what you do?

Other tips – join AdvoConnect and NAHAC, don’t pay big bucks for your web site, many places will help you build a professional one for low cost