How Can I Take Control of My Healthcare Needs?

By Pamela Zukowski, PTA, MHI
Adjunct Faculty, College of Science, Engineering, and Technology

doctor talking to patient

A large number of students in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology intend to pursue medical careers as primary providers. Adequate college preparation in healthcare includes a thorough examination of the issues that face healthcare providers and patients today.

The need for better overall healthcare is a major topic of discussion in the U.S. because many Americans do not have access to medical care that meets all of their needs. While access and quality healthcare are important for all ages, it is becoming an even greater concern for those ages 65 and over, and to the people who care for them.

One in five Americans will be over the age of 65 by the year 2050 (DuPre, 2014). As the average life expectancy grows, the issues surrounding the quality of care for our elderly will grow. By 2050, the elderly community will have different social, health and economic needs than it does today (Frank B Hobbs, 1996).

There are things patients can do in collaboration with their providers to take more control over their healthcare needs. When you start to advocate with healthcare providers, you become a partner in the decision-making process.

When the patient does more of the talking and communicates their needs, it opens up ways to negotiate treatment ideas with doctors and other providers. This process will guide you in determining and deciding on the best course of treatment for yourself. In the end both your doctor and you will achieve your goals: Your doctor will have positive healthcare outcomes to share, and your health will improve (Dale E. Brashers, 1999).

Self-advocacy in healthcare means that a person or group provides general support for a particular cause or policy. Patient health self-advocacy in turn means that patients become empowered to support their personal healthcare needs. The self-advocacy process can also involve family members or a trusted friend in cases where patients are unable to advocate for themselves due to various issues. Professional patient advocates are also available; they are mostly social workers and chaplains who can each be helpful in assisting patients with the often-daunting processes of health decision-making (National Safety Foundation).

You have the power to make positive changes to your health and healthcare needs through self-empowerment.

Grand Canyon University offers several biology degrees that help students prepare for graduate-level studies. Visit our website for more information about STEM programs at GCU.


  • Dale E. Brashers, S. M. (1999). The Patient Self-Advocacy Scale: Measuring Patient Involvement in Health Care Decision-Making. Health Communication , 11 (2).
  • DuPre, A. (2014). Communicating About Health. Oxford, New York: Oxford Univeristy Press.
  • Frank B Hobbs, B. L. (n.d.). Current Population Reports Special Studies 65+ in the United States. Retrieved Nov 25, 2013, from 190/p23-190.pdf
  • National Safety Foundation. (n.d.). Key Facts About Patient Safety. Retrieved Nov 25, 2013, from National Safety Foundation: and-consumers-key-facts-about-patient-safety

More about Pamela:

After graduating in 1993 with an associate degree in exercise science, Pamela Zukowski began a 20-year career in physical therapy. In 2012, she decided to return to school and advance her degree. She attended Arizona State University, where she developed a love for education. In 2014, Pamela graduated with a bachelor’s degree in applied health science and a certificate in technical communication. She decided to continue learning, so in 2015, she earned a master’s of healthcare innovation at ASU. Pamela has an intense passion for healthcare, health education, and patient and customer service processes. It is through her career and educational experiences that she has gained a love of innovation and analyzing potential and current healthcare problems. She likes to focus on patient care processes, patient-provider communications and health education issues surrounding patients and families.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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