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The NSPA Blog

Interview with an Advocate; Kathryn McIntyre

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Posted on February 13th, 2019 by Teri Dreher, under Something New

For this week’s blog I sat down with Kathryn McIntyre, NShore’s newest team member. Here are her thoughts on advocacy.

NShore is so happy to have you on board! What has your experience been like so far?

It’s been great. I feel that I’ve already learned a lot and that it’s truly a good fit for me. I see the value of being there for a patient when they’re really feeling alone or in a low spot. These clients really need help with direction. They’re distraught and entrusting me to come in and help them. It’s so humbling. There’s more to it than I ever realized. It’s like the onion analogy. I keep finding more layers. It’s a challenge but also very rewarding. Knowing I can make a difference and hearing in someone’s voice the sound of relief, it’s extremely humbling.

What was your nursing background like before joining the team?

Nursing is a second career for me. Prior to becoming a nurse, I worked in finance as a credit manager. Then I decided I wanted to switch. Nursing made sense to me with my people and management skills. There’s so much you can do with nursing and lateral moves. You can really do almost anything. I went to work in the ER because I wanted to hone my skills as quickly as possible. I started out at a hospital in Waukegan. That was busy. Indeed, I did learn a lot very quickly. My heart still races a little when I hear an ambulance or sense panic in a situation, I just feel on. Between being a credit manager and an ER nurse, there are a lot of similarities. It’s all about hot issues that need to get resolved. It’s a team environment with equal partners where you have to be both respectful and assertive. After that experience, I decided I wanted to use my nursing skills in combination with my business background.

Then, I started working in an oncology setting. Again, things were happening quickly and there was a sense of urgency. We had extremely fragile and vulnerable patients come to us. In a navigation role, I was able to work closely with administration to help as many people as possible. Going to conferences and presenting adds a lot of value to nursing to me. I think it also adds value to clients when they see that you can do all these things outside of just showing up 9-5. Credentials matter. Certifications matter. Right now I’m a certified holistic nurse, a certified oncology nurse, and a Reiki Master. I’m taking the certification exam for patient advocacy this spring.

That leads into my next question. What does being a Professional Advocate mean to you and why did you decide to make this career move?

This is a practice that is very near and dear to my heart. I feel that clients need someone to step in and step up for them. I’ve been in a situation many times, whether in the ER or in the oncology floor at the hospital, where I’ve bumped heads with physicians, surgeons, and administrators. I’ve sat in care conferences, where I felt like I had to advocate for patients. Sometimes calls are made for whatever reason that aren’t necessarily best for the patient. So, this is something I feel strongly about. I feel like it’s been my calling and so when this opportunity presented itself, I took it. The people in this company resonate with my core values. It’s a fantastic fit. I can see myself growing with this company and helping people is the goal. Empowering and educating patients is so so important.

What do you think is one of the biggest problems in healthcare today?confused lost

Insurance companies make things quite interesting for people. It’s all so complicated and unfortunately, it’s not fair. Those who have the most money, get the best care. Bottom line. Most of America lives in this gray zone where they’re almost invisible. I would love to see healthcare in this country totally revamped. I don’t know that it’s going to happen anytime soon, but I do believe patient advocacy can help us move towards that goal. As more and more advocates are out there, it’ll be more a part of public policy. Patients will be empowered to demand better care. Things needs to be standardized in a way where everyone truly has access. Right now they don’t. Access and quality are as large of issues as ever.

Anything else?

I suppose if you’re wanting to get to know me, I would also add that volunteering is very near and dear to my heart. It’s part of that pay it forward mindset. I’ve done the Avon Breast Cancer Walk twice. It’s so important to come together as a team to accomplish a goal like raising money. I’ve created a scholarship that’s given away now at CLC. It’s called the DAM scholarship. It stands for Determined Academic Moms and it’s all donation based. I’m very passionate about it. I also attend a monthly Lake County Opioid Initiative meeting. They do great work. The public doesn’t quite understand it still and there’s so much stigma around it. There’s a huge underserved population there that could truly benefit from a patient advocate.

With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

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