Tips for Successful Patient Advocacy from the 2020 Patient Advocacy Award Winner

 Published: December 22, 2020

By: Addie Schiefer

National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award logo

This year’s National Patient Advocacy Award Winner, Theresa Fountain, RRT, has given us her tips when it comes to successful patient advocacy.  

According to Fountain, being a patient advocate is not a singular act.  

It has many streams attached to it, such as our basic quality of care as taught in school,” Fountain said. Two other streams include the collaborative work with all care givers concerning the patients as well as person-to-person exchange with patients and their families. Each of these streams can be a chapter on to themselves,” Fountain added. 

The following are tips and a few patient advocacy practices that Fountain takes to heart and urges her colleagues to implement. 

Theresa’s tips

  • I follow the World Class Service: AIDET Training guidelines. This is a customer engagement guide that uses five steps improve the perception of care and service.

    AAcknowledge and/or properly address whoever you are interacting with. 

    I – Introduction of self, including your title. 

    D – Duration of the estimated time for the service you are providing. 

    E – Explanation of what you are doing and answering any questions 

    T – Thank you. Using please and thank you often helps put the customer at ease. 

  • Patient Safety is extremely important and is always at the forefront of every encounter. Our patients and visitors must feel confident that they are safe. I practice what I call an entrance and exit room glance. From the door, I look for anything that may be out of place or out of order. Anything that may cause harm to the patient and/or visitor. 
  • Making a habit out of meeting the Residents, Fellows and Staff physicians at the beginning of my shift helps improve collaboration practices. I tell my co-workers it is always good to meet the team before a problem occurs. I consider it a successful shift when the physicians thank you for all your help. 
Felix Khusid More about Theresa:

Theresa has worked for the Henry Ford Health System in the Department of Critical Care Support-Respiratory Therapy for 29 years. If you are in the Respiratory Therapy department and hear, “Go Go Team RT-WOO-WOO!” every therapist in the department of more than 100 strong, will know it is Theresa. She actively and continuously manages the very important morale of the department, along with being an advocate for the profession for many years. 


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Addie Schiefer

Addie Schiefer is the Communications Specialist for the AARC where she creates engaging content for the association via the AARC website, newsletters, and social media. Connect with her about potential stories on LinkedIn. When she’s not working, you can find her listening to a true crime podcast, traveling to new places with her husband, hanging out with her dog JoJo, or browsing the aisles of the nearest Target.