Following is a Q&A to get to know Katherine Scott, Senior Manager, Membership Services and Certifications, who began working at the National Health Council (NHC) in August 2019.
Putting Patients First (PPF) Blog: What led you to the NHC?
I have always been interested in service. I’ve been volunteering for various causes since I was a kid: doing river cleanups in middle school, peer mentoring in high school, planning alternative spring break trips throughout college, and continued professionally: working to integrate behavioral health and primary-care clinics for low-income communities and patients with severe mental illnesses. I realized while doing that work, the importance of a strong community and the way our collective voices can make change. This desire for service-based work is what led me to my role in member services at the NHC. I am grateful to be part of an organization that is driven by a mission of putting people first, of joining with people with chronic illnesses and disabilities and their caregivers and making them front-and-center of our policy priorities.
PPF Blog: Tell us briefly about the membership services department at the NHC and what it offers our members.
Our membership is comprised of organizations from across the health ecosystem. We have five different membership categories – voluntary health agencies (also known as patient advocacy organizations), professional and membership associations, non-profits with a health care focus, business and industry, and associate members. This diverse membership allows us to gain insights from organizations actively involved in patient advocacy and supports the growth and depth of our policy work. The NHC’s policy work relies heavily on input from our Action Teams, which are a member benefit. Our Affinity Groups are another benefit, which bring together staff from member organizations to discuss cross-cutting issues common to their area of work such as chief executive and communications. Learn more about them here.
Because of the dedication and tireless work by these organizations to advocate on behalf of patients, we always want to shine a light on our membership and promote their work! We do this by publishing regular member spotlights on our ‘Putting Patients First’ blog. Visit our Membership Directory to learn about our members, as well.
PPF Blog: What is unique about NHC membership? Why is the NHC’s Standards of Excellence Certification Program® important?
A unique requirement for membership is our Standards of Excellence certification process for our voluntary health agency members. One of our core values here at the NHC is integrity. This is what led to the creation of the Standards of Excellence Certification Program®. The 38 Standards are a set of best-operating practices required for all our patient advocacy group members, also known as voluntary health agencies. They are used to maintain the highest standards of organizational effectiveness and public stewardship.
Even non-member patient advocacy group organizations interested in joining our membership are required to meet our minimum Standards of Excellence before an application can be reviewed. This is how seriously we take the good governance and ethical practices of our membership and why we are so proud of all our members for their work to maintain transparency and accountability. If you have any questions about our membership or our Standards of Excellence Certification Program®, please reach out! I’d love to talk to you.
PPF Blog: What’s your favorite part about working for the NHC?
Getting to be around so many passionate individuals that recognize the importance of the patient voice and addressing the barriers to care faced by those with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Like so many of us who are drawn to this work, I have close friends and family members who live with addiction, depression, and other chronic illnesses. The lack of public awareness about barriers to care drives our membership and our organization to act. Joining my colleagues in action for change is the best part of my work with the NHC.
PPF Blog: What are you most looking forward to working on for the rest of the year?
We have a lot of exciting events on the horizon before the end of the year like the Science of Patient Engagement Symposium where research leaders will talk about their best practices for achieving patient centricity. Also, the Washington Representatives Retreat where staff from our member organizations gather to discuss policy issues important to the patient community. I look forward to attending and hearing what our members have to say and learning how each of their organizations play a crucial role in furthering our collective goals.
PPF Blog: You volunteer with the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project (HCPP), tell us about your experiences with it and why it’s important to you.
I have been with this program for more than two years now and have loved every minute. I began with this program because of the harsh reality that children growing up in the district’s homeless shelters endure racism and classism that leave them with experiences far different from their wealthier peers. This affects their education, safety, health care, and vitally.
We host play nights in the shelters twice a week for kids ages 4-7 and twice a week for the pre-teens, ages 8-12, as well as weekend field trips every few months. I chose the pre-teen group as I was once a middle school teacher and love working with that age group. Volunteering with this program has shown me how important social connection, joy and play are for us as human beings and has made me deeply passionate about advocating for families experiencing homelessness.