What is PPALS?
Professional Patient Advocates in the Life Sciences is a 501C3 focused on raising the professional development of people working in advocacy roles in pharmaceutical or life sciences companies. The organization was founded in 2014 by Jayne Gershkowitz, Jean Campbell, and Barbara Wuebbels.
After we attended the first national patient advocacy conference in 2011 we recognized several things:
- The educational and professional backgrounds of people working as patient advocates was diverse
- There were no educational programs to prepare people for the role
- Many patient advocates were only one in that role in their company
- Most were in mid-level positions with little access to top management
- Few opportunities existed for patient advocates to network with their peers in other companies
To address these issues we developed an educational curriculum in conjunction with Sanford Research Institute in Sioux Falls, SD. The 2.5 day program is held annually in May at Sanford Research Institute. The curriculum brings together leading experts in industry and government to provide lectures and case studies on important topics for patient advocates. Students attending the curriculum are encouraged to complete a capstone project on a topic that is relevant to their career. A certificate is awarded to those who complete the capstone project.
Recognizing that leaders of patient advocacy organizations also came from diverse backgrounds a curriculum was developed for leaders in advocacy organizations. The two and a half day program runs concurrently with the program for professional patient advocates. This allows for some shared presentations and extensive networking opportunities.
Building national patient advocacy networks provides resources and support for people working in the role. By joining PPALS members are able to raise issues in a safe environment, have access to open advocacy positions, and further the development of the professional patient advocacy role.