Assumption Professor Lea Christo Earns National Patient Advocacy Board Certification

Jan 08, 2019

Assumption has announced that Visiting Assistant Professor Lea Christo, MSW, LICSW, BCPA, is among the first group of individuals in the nation to achieve certification by the national Patient Advocate Certification Board (PACB), an entity of scholars and health care practitioners that certifies the expertise of patient advocates. This certification enhances Assumption’s popular graduate-level health advocacy program that prepares students for a rewarding career and the national credentialing exam.

Marketplace demand for patient advocates has surged in recent years with the aging of the baby-boomer generation. Patient advocates help individuals and their families navigate the multifaceted health care system as they counsel individuals on the various treatment options.

“I am eager to advance the expanding professional field of patient advocacy through the work of the PACB and as the director of Assumption ‘s unique online graduate health advocacy program,” said Prof. Christo, who is the director of the health advocacy program, and co-developer of the institution’s resiliency certificate program. “Consistent with the College’s mission to form graduates known for critical intelligence, thoughtful citizenship and compassionate service, patient advocates advance best practices that respond to the dynamic challenges faced by healthcare consumers and serve our communities through health promotion.”

According to the PACB, it is a nonprofit focused on the development and maintenance of certification for the profession of patient advocacy that was created in 2012 to create ethical standards, professional competencies and best practices for those working in the field.

Students enrolled in Assumption’s health advocacy program develop analytical frameworks, contingency models, skills, approaches to historical and current trends, and ideas that shape and comprise the emerging field of health advocacy. Once in the field, they respond to the growing awareness of the importance of partnering perspectives in management, the social sciences, education and the health sciences while exploring the converging roles of patient representative, ombudsman, educator, care manager, patient navigator, family advisor and health advocate.

The program consists of a 12-course, 36-credit curriculum that provides students a comprehensive education on the ethics and management of health advocacy. Students in Assumption’s health advocacy program now have an opportunity to earn the BCPA credentials to complement their academic studies. This credential is widely recognized by potential employers, as it is an indicator of advanced professionalism in patient advocacy.

Prof. Christo began collaborating with the PACB in 2004 as a member of the Patient Advocate Credential Steering Committee, a group responsible for conducting industry research to develop ethical standards, professional competencies and best practices that professionalizes the field of patient advocacy.  She earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Anselm College and an MSW from Boston College, having also completed intensive training as a teacher of Mindful Self-Compassion through the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine. In addition to her work at Assumption, she has worked at the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, McLean Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Friendly House, Inc., and the Holy Trinity Eastern Orthodox Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.