University of Arizona College of Nursing

RN Patient Advocates is the only nationally recognized Patient Advocacy education program created specifically for qualified RNs endorsed by a leading College of Nursing: The University of Arizona.



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Nominate Karen Mercereau as Your

Favorite Nurse: #NurseSearch

Her Mission: To Empower People in Their Healthcare Through Advocacy, Education, and Guidance Through the Healthcare System.


Dr. Oz is looking for a nurse that exemplifies the best of the nursing profession.

Click the image below to read the article: #DrOZ Karen Mercereau

Click this link to Nominate Karen to be on the Dr. Oz Show!

Here's everything you need to submit the nomination:

Nominee: Karen Mercereau

Place of Work: RN Patient Advocates PLLC


Job Title: RN, iRNPA

In 150 words or less, tell us about your nominee and why they embody the best of the nursing profession: "Founder of RN Patient Advocates in 2002 - new practice model incorporating all major medical paradigms; approved by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, Advocacy Process developed over 7 years; education arm partnered with University of Arizona College of Nursing." 

The above is only 35 words. Add your personal reflections and/or see more about Karen below.

Utilize one of the images below to attach to the submission form:

#DrOZ #NurseSearch

 (to download right click on the image and choose 'Save Image')

#NurseSearch #DrOz

Again the link to Nominate Karen to be on the Dr. Oz Show!



Founded in 2002 by owner and CEO Karen Mercereau, RN, iRNPA, RN Patient Advocates, PLLC has emerged as the national leader in RN Patient Advocacy education and professional development. The company was created as a independent RN Patient Advocacy practice, one of the first of its kind in the country. For seven years, Karen refined and clarified her nursing model into what emerged as the Patient Advocacy Process © and she established where this new nursing model fit in to the existing healthcare system. Clients and their families, as well as doctors and care teams, swiftly embraced this new nursing role as independent RN Patient Advocacy began to demonstrate an incredible value to achieving the best health care outcomes - patient by patient. In addition to operating a thriving independent practice, RN Patient Advocates, PLLC began receiving inquiries from nurses across the country interested in RN Patient Advocacy. Nurses were frustrated by a healthcare system filled with misdiagnoses, failed treatments, unneeded escalation of medical problems and work contexts that prevented them from providing the best possible care. RNs wanted to learn the Patient Advocacy Process © and how to enter this burgeoning profession. In 2008, RN Patient Advocates, PLLS expanded its scope of work to include the development of the independent RN Patient Advocate profession at a national level. Academic RNs with experience writing medical education curricula and syllabi, collaborated with Karen to transform the Patient Advocacy Process ©, into an teachable model and create the first RN Patient Advocacy education program for clinical RNs.


Learning Intensive History
In 2009, five graduates completed the first iRNPA Learning Intensive as RN Patient Advocate Pioneers. The workshop class revealed that in addition to the Learning Intensive, iRNPAs would need an ongoing way to affiliate, collaborate and grow the profession at a national level and the concept of the National Network of RN Patient Advocates was seeded. Shortly after the first class, Karen had the opportunity to present her education program to the University of Arizona’s College of Nursing. Dean Shaver and the College quickly recognized the RN Patient Advocate Learning Intensive as an outstanding learning opportunity and invited RN Patient Advocates, PLLC to partner with their career development and continuing education offerings. Partnership with the U of A accelerated the iRNPA Learning Intensive into the leading professional development class for RNs ready to enter the exciting field of Patient Advocacy, and in 2011 the Learning Intensive grew from a residential immersion to include an online education component through the University’s electronic learning platform.

RN Patient Advocates, PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in the field of RN Patient Advocate education and the only program partnered with a leading university-based college ofnursing. “This program has been developed [...] by Karen Mercereau, RN, iRNPA, a nationally recognized visionary leader in healthcare”. ~ Joan L. Shaver, PhD, RN, FAAN


In 2015, RN Patient Advocates, PLLC graduated their 8th class of iRNPAs. There are now more than 150 iRNPA Learning Intensive graduates spread out across the country. The curriculum continues to evolve and grow, recognizing nursing as a dynamic process that must continually adjust to ever-shifting climate of healthcare delivery. You can join the league of bold and incredible RNs who have attended the Learning Intensive and now deliver Pure Nursing as independent RN Patient Advocates. RN Patient Advocates PLLC, continues to focus on development of RN Patient Advocacy at a national level. In addition to ongoing development of the iRNPA Learning Intensive, the company has refocused on the National Network of RN Patient Advocates including the launch of the Network’s first membership campaign. Additionally, RN Patient Advocates, PLLC is working to grow and develop Career Options and other professional opportunities.


Graduates Have Great Things to Say

      “In a year’s time after taking the RNPA Learning Intensive, my career, my health, my family, my very life has been transformed. I am forever grateful” Karen DiMarco, RN, iRNPA
      “The way of the future of absolute must if you want to make and be the difference in righting the wrongs of healthcare. Kare is a wonderful mentor who has put her soul into this program. Passion, Vision, Perseverance.” Lana Benton, RN, iRNPA
               “The forethought, experience, openness, philosophy and preparation provides             all the tools, thought process, and confidence to begin and succeed as an                   iRNPA.” Leta Gill, RN, iRNPA


Karen Mercereau


Karen Mercereau, RN, iRNPA started clinical practice at Georgetown University 1968. She has practiced with a lifelong passion for ensuring that her patients are fully educated about their healthcare options and receive the best care possible. Unsatisfied with the status quo she honed an expertise for moving her patients effectively through the healthcare system. This focus led her to such diverse activities as serving as clinical instructor to paramedics, working with a team to establish the first hospice in Arizona, and specializing in the intensive care areas of hospitals.


Karen led a nationally recognized task force on RN Credentialing to provide a career path for RN’s reflecting both academic and clinical experiences. She practiced her clinical skills as well as creating new healthcare delivery systems. This creative approach also served Karen as she led a consortium of private and public sector healthcare providers to establish delivery systems for HIV-AIDS patients in the time before government recognition of the disease. By 2002 she had become utterly frustrated by the inability to advocate effectively for her patients. Bound by hospital and health-plan restrictions and overwhelming clinical responsibilities and time constraints, she decided to opt for direct patient centered advocacy – through an independent practice. By founding RN Patient Advocates, PLLC, Karen was finally able to integrate her clinical, academic, and entrepreneurial skills as an iRNPA. Her care model demonstrated improved safety through communication and education of both hospitalized and community-based patients, and her Advocacy Process © grew into teachable model of Nursing Care and a solution to navigating the broken healthcare system. Karen lives in Arizona and continues to devote her life to empowering her patients and the RNPA profession.


  • Pioneer Award: National Association of Women Business Owners
  • Purpose Prize Fellowship
  • Fabulous 50 RN program in Tucson, AZ
  • Partnered with College of Nursing, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
  • Member of American Holistic Nurses Association
  • Member of Alliance of Professional Health Advocates


Karen's Story Who actually sits down with patients and their families to explain the different diagnostic approaches and treatments available, and how informed are they when they sign on the dotted line? How do patients and families make complex medical choices that directly impact the quality and quantity of their lives? Everywhere I worked as a Clinical Nurse I felt there was a component missing from patient care.

No one was facilitating communication between all aspects of a patient's care team to ensure that all specialists were aware of a patient's full history, treatments, and medications. Compliance with treatment plans often failed because patients and families did not understand what they were doing. I wondered who was asking the questions patients and their families don’t know how to ask, looking for gaps in care, and spotting potential problems.

I saw patients who felt boxed in by a lack of options and saw the need for research and education about diagnostic and treatment options encompassing Integrative and Functional Medicine. And patients themselves expressed concerns and needs: “No one can diagnose my mystery illness. What do I do in a medical crisis? I see several doctors and specialists but they don’t seem to communicate with each other. I’m concerned about my medication. What are my treatment options?”

Where was the Patient Advocate with the clinical expertise to help navigate the healthcare system nightmare?

When I started investigating education opportunities to develop my skills as a Patient Advocate, I found none that were specific or complementary for Clinical RNs. I decided to start an independent practice and create a new model of patient-centered advocacy - RN Patient Advocacy. I had never started a business and I remember it being a bit intimidating and daunting; what were the legal and insurance ramifications? How would I get patients? How do I bill people?

I went to the Small Business Development Center; it took me a while, but I wrote my first business plan to forge my map forward. It was a big change getting used to seeing myself as a business owner and independent practitioner, especially learning to charge for my services. I began to realize how valuable my knowledge and expertise could be to my patients (who I increasingly started to think of as my clients.)

As I continued to practice it became clear to me that my work was critically important to my patient’s health and wellness. Built on a strong foundation of clinical experience, I developed an effective Advocacy Process (c) that improved health outcomes. In addition to educating my patients, I created collaborative medical teams to maximize the best possible outcomes for my patients.

RN Patient Advocacy provides for improved safety and education of both hospitalized and community-based patients at this time of increasing numbers of medical errors which result in complications and deaths. It was clear that these errors are largely a phenomenon of medicine for profit, not a result of substandard doctors and nurses.

More patients found me and I learned how to get my message out. Doctors started thanking me. The more physicians I worked with, the more open and accepting they became about working together. Face it, their patients who worked with me did better than many who did not. Also, my work made their lives easier and made them look good. They saw the benefits of reducing the risk of medical errors (thus reducing their malpractice insurance exposure), becoming more aware of their patients’ full histories as well as the work done by their peers on those patients, and the value of the increasing levels of health literacy of their patients.

Nurses began to call and email from all over the nation as well as from Canada and as far away as Saudi Arabia! Experienced clinical RNs were becoming as frustrated as I with the system and looking for alternative ways to stay in the field while utilizing their knowledge and skills more effectively. There just aren’t that many choices beyond the clinical arena for clinical RNs. Seven years into patient care using the Patient Advocacy Model I knew it was time to help other RNs do what I was doing – to experience the excitement and joy of direct patient advocacy.

Clinical RNs can be positive agents for change in the health care system of the US. Through our efforts, our patients benefit twice: first in the improved outcomes and cost savings in management of their immediate health problems and second, by learning why and how to advocate for themselves. It is this last part that holds such hope for our nation’s health care system: to facilitate patients becoming active agents in their own care so they are not so vulnerable.

In 47 years of clinical practice, the role of independent RN Patient Advocacy is the most creative, exciting and rewarding practice I have ever experienced. Are you ready for an innovative and exciting new career?”


Independent RN Patient Advocacy: A Professional Nursing Model That Addresses Critical Problems in the Medical System



We are in the Journal of Managed Care Nursing with a new article: Independent RN Patient Advocacy:  A Professional Nursing Model That Addresses Critical Problems in the Medical System by Karen Mercereau, RN, iRNPA and Jessica Koegel, RN, BSN, iRNPA.

Click the image below to be taken to the full article.

Independent RN Patient Advocacy: A Professional Nursing Model That Addresses Critical Problems in the Medical System

Advanced nurses! RN Patient Advocates are leading the way!




Who are these nurses?  They are independent RN Patient Advocates (iRNPAs): highly qualified clinical RNs who have completed an advanced educational program: the RN Patient Advocates/University of Arizona College of Nursing Learning Intensive.  There are now iRNPAs in 25+ states.  

Where are they leading?   There is a whole world of advanced medical research and clinical practice emerging globally:  The Functional Medicine Chronic Care Model and Integrative Medicine.  Sure, you may have heard the words, but do you realize the significance of this for your own health and well-being?  This is the medicine of WHY? not the current medicine of WHAT?  

Following the pattern of conventional medicine – so very valuable for acute medical situations such as heart attacks, strokes and surgery – does not lead to success in reversing the epidemic of chronic illness facing everyone on the planet right now. Understanding the underlying causes of illness – rather than just suppressing the symptoms – can lead to healing.  iRNPAs know how to access this information, guiding you and your loved ones to physicians and therapists knowledgeable in this new medical approach.

Want to access advanced medical knowledge for yourself and your family?  RN Patient Advocates are required to be knowledgeable in all these medical fields: conventional medicine, the Functional Medicine Chronic Care Model and Integrative Medicine.  They teach, they guide.  In this way iRNPAs can ensure the integrity of the diagnostic process (10-40% of all diagnoses are incorrect  according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality).

Once there is a correct diagnosis in place, iRNPAs research the full range of your treatment options in all fields of medicine – researching globally as well!

So, what can be done to get more accurate diagnoses? Another iRNPA leading edge approach:  the MEDiKEY. This highly valuable tool can be a lifesaver. Typically, our medical records are scattered between several offices, are part paper and part electronic, are not presented to the right people in the right format at the right time.

How can this MEDiKEY help with this medical information gap?  iRNPAs  create a synoptic chronology of your entire available medical history that tracks Trends, Gaps in Care, Errors, and Clinically Significant Events that may be obscure, buried in your record.  This tool is widely appreciated by physicians across the country and by ER personnel as well.  It is typically 5-6 pages, double spaced, written in medical-ese. Physicians can get a grasp of the reality of your medical history in minutes.  This reduces your risk of medical error!

Contact us!

RN Patient Advocates, PLLC

3400 West Goret Road
Tucson, AZ 85754
Phone: 520-743-7008

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