DIY health event

How to partner with a medical organization to create a community event

It may take a little bit of planning, but such events can lead to nonclinical subspecialty exposure and be highly beneficial for patients.

As a pediatric resident, I wanted to further explore my interest in pediatric rheumatology in a nonclinical setting. To achieve this goal, I recently partnered with The Arthritis Foundation’s New Jersey chapter to create a virtual community talk with patients and their parents about juvenile rheumatic diseases. The event not only helped me delve deeper into pediatric rheumatology, but it also provided the patients who participated with valuable information.

I highly recommend that other trainees consider creating their own health-related event to help patients and explore areas of interest. It may take a little bit of planning, but such events can lead to nonclinical subspecialty exposure and be highly beneficial for patients.

Steps to take

Here are some steps you can take to put together a similar event:

  1. Find a faculty mentor in your area of interest. This mentor can provide recommendations on organizations that will best fit your event. I reached out to my mentor who is a pediatric rheumatology attending, who suggested partnering with the Arthritis Foundation.
  2. Find your organization’s contact information; many large organizations have local chapters. Introduce yourself and your proposed event via phone or email to discuss the topic and event planning. I emailed the organization’s main contact information and specifically asked to get in touch with the local New Jersey representative. I wrote a paragraph that included my plans for the event, such as the topic, goals, duration, time and recruitment.
  3. Coordinate availability between you and the organization for your proposed event. Ask about the timing of prior events that have had good attendance to help determine the best time for scheduling. Once my proposed event was accepted, we had subsequent meetings and phone calls regarding timelines. I had to plan around the organization’s already scheduled events. It is important to keep in mind patient fatigue if the same patients are being recruited for multiple events.
  4. Figure out the best way to disperse information about your event to patients and families. Ask about frequency of their communications and how best to reach patients and their families. The organization suggested I create a virtual flyer, so I made one using a free online graphic design tool. Given that the event was virtual, I created a QR code for patient registration that would be managed by the organization. The organization sent the flyer to their patients twice through their listserv: one month and one week before the event. I also worked with my mentor and sent the flyer to the department’s patients through the patient portal. I kept extra flyers at the outpatient clinic and communicated the details to the secretary and nursing teams to help promote the event. Both the organization and my residency program promoted the event on social media using the flyer. Closer to the event, the organization sent out the Zoom link to the registered patients.
  5. Present information at your event in an interesting and nonclinical manner so that it is relatable to patients and their families. I worked with a general pediatrician and my mentor. The general pediatrician and I worked on incorporating patient stories. My mentor and I developed a PowerPoint presentation that could be shared via Zoom and included examples of patient histories, lab work, diagnosis, management and common questions. I found it helpful to introduce a medical term and follow with an accurate, yet understandable, definition because patients and their families can be exposed to that language in their routine visits.

The benefits of community health events

I am looking forward to creating future events to benefit patients and their families in the field of pediatric rheumatology. Events such as these allow residents to partner with residents in other programs. They can also improve patient turnout and possibly increase personal understanding and explanation of a topic among other health care workers. These events can especially be helpful for trainees who are interested in (or are currently in) primary care, given the skillset needed for motivational interviewing and explaining multidisciplinary records to patients in an effective manner.

Hopefully these tips will assist you if you decide to plan a community event related to your field or specialty. Good luck!

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

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