Ashton Nesmith-Kochera, BCPA, CBD (CBI)​​​​
​​Board Certified Patient Advocate 
Certified Birth Doula
Writer & Speaker

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style." - Maya Angelou

Ashton’s life experiences and gained knowledge have led her to a career in patient advocacy. After an emergency appendectomy at age 13, Ashton developed POTS (followed by EDS/MCAS DX at age 25). Although chronic illness was hard on Ashton, as she was often dismissed, and even misdiagnosed, she refused to give up. Ashton went on to college and became a teacher but was only able to pursue her childhood dream for a short time before teaching was not an option due to the reality of her unpredictable and demanding healthcare needs at the time.

However, Ashton's passion for educating and supporting others came easily when she felt called to help those who experienced similar health situations. Ashton's traumatic pregnancy, childbirth, and daughter's NICU experience in 2006 was the motivation behind Ashton receiving her birth doula certification in 2009 and co-founding Hagerstown Birth, a non-profit childbirth advocacy organization in 2011. After realizing the impact chronic-illness had on herself, she founded a local support group, Tri-State EDS, in 2015 which has nearly 300 members. In early 2018, Ashton became one of the 149; first, National Board Certified Patient Advocates and is currently enrolled in a trauma-informed professional certification course.

A lover of both reading and writing, Ashton found hope within many self-help books on some of her darkest days. Ashton has two pieces in current medical literature and is currently writing a book that she plans to have published by 2020. Ashton also offers motivational speaking in addition to speaking on behalf of CampaignZERO – Families for Patient Safety as one of their Community Educators and lobbies on behalf of chronic illness and rare disease patients as a legislative advocate. Among being a member of many other patient advocacy organizations, Ashton also sits on various committees and boards within those organizations to help raise awareness and bring change to better our U.S. Healthcare System.

Between spending time with her family and friends and what life has to offer around her home in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia (outskirts of the Washington DC Metro Area between Maryland & Virginia), Ashton continues to further her education and expertise by attending continuing education classes, medical conferences, and patient advocacy events. Ashton lives to make every day count as she’s committed to ensuring that others never have to experience what she’s endured.


A few highlights of Ashton's patient advocacy efforts:

The Shepherdstown Chronicle