Welcome to the Umbra Member Q&A series, where we bring you insights from our community of healthcare experts and enthusiasts. In this post, we are thrilled to introduce you to Megan Stewart, who comes to professional patient advocacy from personal experience, as many advocates do.
Megan’s background is in strategy consulting and corporate relations in the healthcare sector as well as in consumer products and financial services. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Politics and a Master’s Degree in International Finance from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She went on to get a certificate in patient advocacy and become a Board-Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA). Her clients are so lucky that her intellect is matched by her huge heart.
Getting to Know Megan Stewart, MS, BCPA: An International Relations Expert with a Heart for Helping Patients
Q: Share one of your most proud or gratifying professional accomplishments.
Megan: I have recently been published twice in a national online news source as a healthcare expert/explainer for healthcare policy issues. Being able to help synthesize and analyze bipartisan policy issues impacting patients and families is rewarding. The comment section has been filled with well-thought-out points and counterpoints, showing that lively and polite debate still exists! It has also been gratifying to use my background and education in policy along with my healthcare focus in order to help educate and spark interest in matters that truly have an effect on the lives of patients and their families.
Way to go, Megan! We’re so glad you’re sharing your knowledge with the rest of us. If you’d like to read Megan’s work, check our her contributions to The Dispatch here.
Q: What drew you to patient advocacy?
Megan: My husband, Joe, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called chordoma over seven years ago. After his journey, which included research, multiple medical opinions, and treatment out-of-state, I was motivated to become a patient advocate. I went back to school through UCLA and earned my certificate in Patient Advocacy with honors. From there, I have been building my practice. Being able to work with patients and caregivers to help them get the best possible care motivates me each day.
So many professional advocates learn firsthand how to navigate the U.S. healthcare system and want to put that hard-earned knowledge to use for others. Advocates like Megan blend professional expertise with the personal empathy and understanding that goes a long way when you’re struggling with a difficult healthcare situation for yourself or a loved one.
Q: Are there patient groups or conditions that you are especially passionate about?
Megan: Cancer, rare disease, chronic disease, conditions that require research and second opinions, and supporting caregivers are all areas of interest to me.
Q: What’s one thing you wish more patients knew about healthcare or patient advocacy?
Megan: I think the goal of every patient and their loved ones is to find a treatment plan that they are comfortable with. This can look different for each patient, but basically, it comes down to having the medical staff that they trust, the resources and treatment that they believe are the best to address their issue, and the support that will help them heal. That process can take some time and is not always linear in today’s healthcare system.
In addition, during times of crisis, stress, and overwhelm, a patient and their family members can struggle with the process of understanding their diagnosis and getting the care that they want and need. Simply put, there is a lot to navigate, and many conditions are complex. Working with a patient advocate can help the patient and family find resources more quickly and with confidence, getting the patient on their way to receiving the care that they need. And ultimately, a patient advocate can allow the patient to focus on what is most important to them — getting better — and families can focus on caring for their loved one.
We hear all the time from patients and families who are incredibly grateful for outside expertise like Megan’s. Even people who are well educated and understand the healthcare system can get lost in it when they or their loved one is the patient. Just like you wouldn’t handle a lawsuit without a lawyer, no matter how smart or capable you are, you can benefit from a patient advocate by your side during healthcare encounters.
Q: Share a fun fact about you that we wouldn’t know based on your bio/resume alone.
Megan: After running cross country and track as a teenager, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 2001. I now keep both feet on the ground at the same time — usually through yoga, pilates, or HIIT — but I still love working out.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
Megan: I love to travel, and I have a sweet tooth — which means it is hard to pass by a bakery or an ice cream shop when I am away from home!
We feel you on this, Megan. Who doesn’t love a treat, especially when you’re exploring a new place? Luckily for Megan, she also loves to workout!
How Megan can help YOU:
Megan specializes in medical advocacy and navigation. She can help you:
- Coordinate and navigate your care
- Manage a cancer or rare disease diagnosis
- Find and navigate clinical trials
- Get a second opinion
- Understand and manage your medications
- Find doctors and other healthcare providers
- Help you communicate with your healthcare providers
- Manage your healthcare when you travel
- Help you communicate with your healthcare providers
Learn more about Megan and book time with her here.
As we delve into the stories of Umbra members, Megan Stewart stands out for her smarts and her heart. She’s been there as a family caregiver and navigator, and now she helps other patients and families navigating difficult diagnoses.