Physician Advocate – Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of being a physician advocate?

The most tangible benefit PAVE doctors mention is how good it feels to help veterans and how much they enjoy the comradeship of interacting with other retired colleagues in sustaining the benefits offered by PAVE.

Is there something unique about military veterans?

Military culture is different from our civilian experience in many unique and important ways that affect the veteran-physician relationship.

The Code of Conduct for America’s Armed Forces states that Americans serving in the Armed Forces are guarding our country and our way of life and that they must be prepared to give their lives in this defense.

The military has its own laws, culture and language. Since the very start of Basic Training and continuing on through their service careers, the veteran has been trained to overcome pain and discomfort and to not show weakness. That may include not informing their family, colleagues or physicians of their ailments or worries.

“It has often been said, “nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care”. Veterans are those who have written a blank check to the American people for an amount up to and including their lives. During their active duty careers, they have served and sacrificed for our nation. As a physician, what service are you willing to provide for them?” (Marjorie Morrison, C.E.O. and Founder,  PsychArmor Institute)

PAVES relationship with PsychArmor Institute will effectively  provide you with the knowledge and grasp of military culture needed to successfully deal with the unique nature of experiences that affect the veteran-physician interaction.

What are the major differences affecting health status between post-9/11 veterans and those from prior conflicts?*

  • Higher Suicide Risk
    Ten percent have considered suicide or made a plan to end their life:
    One-third of these have not received help.
    Twenty two veterans end their lives by suicide every day,;
  • Lower Help Seeking Behaviors
    Forty percent do not receive care for a mental health issue
    Twenty-two percent do not receive care for a physical health condition
  • Greater Risk-Taking Behaviors
    Driving after several drinks.
    Increased drug use and addiction.
    Carrying a weapon outside of work.
    Have looked to start a fight.
    Have taken unnecessary health risks.
    Have taken unnecessary risks to life.
  • Greater Barriers to Receiving Care
    More than 50% do not know where to go to get help
    Thirty seven percent believe they can handle problems “on their own”
    Thirty seven percent have difficulty scheduling an appointment
    Twenty-three percent are concerned about confidentiality of treatment:
    Twenty- three percent fear harm to future career

*The State Of The American Veteran: The Los Angeles County Veterans Study, September 2014.

Will I provide medical care to my veteran client?

No. As a PAVE Physician Advocate you will assist your veteran in acquiring the understanding needed to make better healthcare choices. Our goal is to support both veterans and their current treating physicians to increase the efficiency and successful outcome of their encounters. We are the veteran’s advocate and educator, not their doctor. They are our clients, not our patients. You must be retired from medical practice to counsel PAVE’s veterans.

As a PAVE physician advocate, how will I do this?

As an advocate, you will, when needed, explain the veteran’s diagnoses and the treatment options presented to them by their medical providers. In fact, we will attempt to answer all of their questions concerning their healthcare. We can even help prepare a list of questions for their doctor visits and afterwards help them to better understand the answers they received.

As a physician advocate what will I NOT DO that a healthcare provider would?

You will not take a medical history, perform an examination, order diagnostic tests or studies, keep medical records, prescribe medication or in any way treat the veteran. In other words, you will not practice medicine.

How often and where will I meet with my veteran client?

We offer frequent, unhurried interactions for as long as the veteran feels that they are helpful. These on-going contacts can be done in-person, by text, email or Skype.

Will I be in contact with the veteran’s VA or other doctors?

Only if the veteran and their doctor would like this. The veteran may need to sign a release of information form for this to happen.

Will I be able to review medical records if I desire?

At this time, only if the veteran personally brings or sends copies for review. It may also be possible to do this via the Internet, if the veteran has an electronic record and can, in person, access it for you. We do not take their passwords.

What if I feel that I do not know enough about the veteran’s medical issues to help as much as I would like?

No physician can know everything. However, our advocates can research difficult issues on their own and have access to many colleagues with medical expertise in numerous areas of medical practice with whom they may anonymously confer.

Is there anything I can do as a Physician Advocate if I don’t choose to work directly with veterans?

Absolutely yes! You can serve on a PAVE consulting panel and share your expertise with other Advocates. Access to expertise in many specialty and sub-specialty areas is critical if PAVE is to provide the best service possible to our veteran clients.

What do I need to do to sign up with PAVE as a volunteer?

Use our Contact Form or call/email our Veteran Liaison Coordinator. A PAVE Physician will respond to your inquiry within 24-48 hours.

What are the vetting procedures to become a Physician Advocate?

While PAVE’s physician advocates do not practice medicine, they will have maintained their medical license in an active, voluntary, or retired status and be in good standing. PAVE cannot accept physician advocates who have had their licenses revoked or have undergone a stipulated surrender of their license.