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Become a Patient Advocate or Navigator: Degrees, Certificates and Instruction

Learn to Be a Patient Advocate


Updated May 07, 2014

There are more than two dozen patient advocates or health navigator programs available. The ones I am familiar with are listed below. If you would like to be notified when new programs are added, please provide your email address.

If you aren't sure what type of program you need, or whether you should spend money on courses or programs before you become a patient advocate, you may want to learn how to choose the right advocate or navigator education program for you.

Note: The question is often asked whether someone needs to be certified as a patient advocate in order to do patient advocacy work. Learn more about the difference, and the availability of patient advocacy certification.

Here is a master list of patient advocacy programs in specific categories:

Basic Certificate-Granting Patient Advocacy and Navigator Programs

Patient Advocates, also known as Patient Navigators or Healthcare Navigators work directly for a patient, helping that person get the best healthcare possible from his or her doctors, hospitals and others who actually provide the care the patient needs. Learn more about being a patient advocate or healthcare navigator.

• A group called RN Patient Advocates runs training programs for nurses who wish to assist individuals as private patient advocates and navigators as well.

• The University of Miami (Florida) offers the Alfus Patient Advocacy Certificate. It is completed entirely online and results in a certificate from the university.

• The University of Toledo (Ohio) offers a Patient Advocacy Online Graduate Certificate Program, comprised of basic courses for advocates ranging from legal and ethics issues, to health policy and HIPAA. This is a two-semester certificate program and is conducted entirely online.

Sonoma (California) State University offers a two-semester program in Patient Advocacy and Navigation training with a special emphasis on Integrative Health Care. A survey of complementary and alternative medicine therapies is included in the training, and the program is taught from a holistic perspective. Students are placed in internships in hospitals, medical clinics and Integrative Health Centers during the second semester. Learn more through the Sonoma State Extended Education website.

• A Healthcare Consumer Advocacy Professional Patient Certificate is offered by Antioch University Midwest. It is a 9-month program run partially online and partially on campus. You must have a Bachelor's degree to be admitted. Some scholarships are available.

Empowered UCLA Extensions offers a specialized online one year patient advocacy certificate program (program is served through an iPad app) for people looking to become patient advocates or advance in the career of patient advocacy.

• Anyone just exploring patient advocacy as a possible career can learn the basics and network with others who are currently working in the field through The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, a membership site for health advocates.

If the programs here are not what you are looking for, find other opportunities for study to become a patient advocate or navigator:


Confused? Here's how to choose the right educational program or courses for you.


Not all patient advocates need degrees or formal training. There are other forms of experience and personal attributes that a patient advocate will need to have.

You may also be interested in starting a patient advocacy business.

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