WTF Is A “Professional Patient?”

Matthew Zachary
2 min readMar 23, 2023

(This is long but worth it)

It has come to my attention that — borne of a recent well-known healthcare conference — a new presumptive euphemism is slowly seeping through the ether.

“Professional Patient.”

Comment below with what you think these words mean. Better yet, tell us what you think THEY think it means.

FRIENDS — we need to get ahead of this before it spreads. It must die before it lives. So join me in one rebellious and unified response:

No. Just no. Stop it.

Have you or someone you love been injured by “Professional Patient Jargon Syndrome”? If so, call Jenny at the Law Firm of Tommy Tutone and Partners at 867–5309 and tell ’em MZ sent you.

I’m all for a good old-fashioned round of “Fridge Magnet Corporate Bingo” (see “Patient Centricity.”), After all, Carlin did say that if you stick two things together that have never been stuck together before, some schmuck will buy it.

But “Professional Patient” are NOT two words that should be stuck together and must be immediately expunged from the record.

Inventing labels generated by committee and not community hurts patient advocacy. Our lived experiences may have informed our executive leadership and influence, but we are not to be defined by them. By anyone.

And am sure this Voldemort-like phrase was innocently concocted during a pre-conference panel prep session over Zoom featuring Powerpoint slides and key audience takeaways. However, I’d also like to be proven wrong by suggesting the percentage of patients on that call was hovering around zero.

Patients didn’t ask to get sick, only to accumulate valuable experience and strategic business acumen to be labeled as if some non-exploitative job description and compensation package were waiting for us. Or did I miss the post on Zip Recruiter?

And don’t get me started on all those “Professional Patients” for whom it is anathema to be rightfully compensated while forced to live in poverty to stay on a federally-based Medicare system.

Isn’t it time we stopped inventing jargony labels to suit semantic comfort zones to rationalize something that is clearly threatening and misunderstood?

Let’s work together and remember that you need us as much as we need you — and that’s something to be “professional” about.

Please share, and again, leave a comment below with your thoughts on “Professional Patient.”

MZ out.



Matthew Zachary

Health Experience Officer | Founder • Speaker • Advocate • Xoogler • Omnicom • Podcast Hero • Cancer Rebel • Influencer of Things • Host, Out of Patients