Self Advocacy in Healthcare: Why It Matters

How to advocate for yourself in the hospital

Self advocacy is the ability to vocalize your needs in various settings, especially in healthcare. It involves understanding your patient rights and effectively communicating with healthcare professionals to ensure the best possible care. In this article, we will explore the importance of self advocacy in healthcare and provide tips on how to advocate for yourself.

Patient Rights in Healthcare

Every patient is entitled to a set of rights within the healthcare system. These rights include being treated with respect, being informed about the risks and benefits of treatment, asking questions about your health status, and seeking a second opinion, among others[^1^]. Understanding your rights is crucial in protecting yourself and having a positive experience in healthcare settings.

How to Advocate for Yourself

Here are some practical steps you can take to advocate for yourself in healthcare:

  1. Identify your needs: Clearly communicate your goals and concerns to your physician during appointments.
  2. Come prepared: Do your research about your condition or treatment and prepare a list of questions for your physician.
  3. Keep records: Maintain copies of your medical records, treatment plans, and progress for your own reference. This will come in handy if you switch doctors or encounter any issues with your records.
  4. Seek a second opinion: Don’t hesitate to consult additional health professionals to address any doubts or misunderstandings.
  5. Build a support system: Reach out to friends, family, or support groups who can provide emotional and practical support during your healthcare journey[^2^].

Why Self Advocacy Matters

Navigating the healthcare system can be overwhelming and confusing. By advocating for yourself, you can ensure that your voice is heard, your needs are met, and your rights are respected. Self advocacy can also help alleviate emotional and financial burdens in the long term[^3^].


Becoming your own advocate is crucial for a positive healthcare experience. By understanding your rights, effectively communicating with healthcare professionals, and building a support system, you can take control of your health and well-being.


Q: What is self advocacy in healthcare?
A: Self advocacy in healthcare refers to the ability to vocalize your needs and concerns, understand your patient rights, and actively participate in decisions regarding your health.

Q: How can I advocate for myself in healthcare?
A: Start by clearly communicating your goals and concerns to your physician, preparing questions in advance, keeping your own medical records, seeking second opinions, and building a support system.

Q: Why is self advocacy important in healthcare?
A: Self advocacy empowers patients to have a say in their own care, ensures that their needs are met, and can help prevent potential emotional and financial stresses in the future.

[^1^]: American Medical Association – Patient Rights
[^2^]: Northwest Primary Care – How to Advocate for Yourself at the Doctor
[^3^]: Simply Well – Speak for Yourself: Self-Advocacy in Healthcare

About the author:

Sydney Huynh is a recent graduate from UCLA, majoring in Psychobiology with an interest in oncology, pediatrics, and public health. With a passion for these fields, Sydney has been actively involved in organizations such as Colleges Against Cancer, Pathways for Students into Health Professions, and Patient Health Advocates. She is dedicated to pursuing a career in medicine and making a difference in healthcare.