Celebrate the community while strengthening your practice

July 16, 2014

When was the last time you got really excited about dermatology? I mean, in your bones, core-shaking, vitality-restoring, conquer the universe type of elation. If the answer is “Well, I can’t remember the last time.” or worse yet, “Maybe never?” then perhaps it is time to throw a party.

When was the last time you got really excited about dermatology? I mean, in your bones, core-shaking, vitality-restoring, conquer the universe type of elation. If the answer is “Well, I can’t remember the last time.” or worse yet, “Maybe never?” then perhaps it is time to throw a party.

No, no, it’s not what you think. I’m talking about a derm-centric celebration where you choose the cause. In the process you will find it renews your motivation for this career in medicine, gives back to the community, and galvanizes a collective effort amongst your staff in the process. Best yet, it can be fun!

Yes, we are all ever pressed for time. Providing precious time and resources may seem incongruent with a healthy bottom line for the practice. However, community outreach efforts strengthen your role in the population you serve and often lead to intangible, long-lasting, and positive effects for your practice perception.

Getting started with community outreach related to your practice does not need to start off as a swanky soiree. Take stock of what you or your associates enjoy and practice during your clinic day. Are you a Mohs surgeon with finely tuned surgical expertise? Are you a laser surgeon with the ability to treat scars or tattoos? Are you a medical dermatologist with a passion to educate the public on changing moles or skin cancer? Or are you perhaps a pediatric dermatologist with a desire to educate parents on their children’s skin condition? All of these are examples of duties we perform on a daily basis that could easily be converted to an altruistic means of serving the citizens of your town or city.

 

Next: How to get started

 

 

Start small, build up

My advice is to start small and let it grow organically. I started four years ago during the month of May. I was interested in raising awareness about skin cancer prevention and detection in a sunny coastal community that often yielded actinic keratoses in 20-year-olds and basal cell carcinomas in 30-year-olds. The first year had very humble beginnings: Four skin cancer screenings at local gyms and athletic apparel shops.

The following year was skin cancer screenings at a local spa followed by a silent auction and happy hour, with proceeds benefiting skin cancer research. The last two years’ efforts and realization of this community event now termed “SolSearch” have grown exponentially. This year’s event was replete with a skin cancer screening event involving four dermatologists and a party with 200 guests, a live band, locally sponsored organic food and drinks, and over $15,000 in proceeds toward skin cancer research.

Doing good feels good. Doing good is interesting and also gets noticed. The media often takes notice of work well done by physicians. Media opportunities whether radio, TV or print is an excellent way to raise awareness for the cause and solidify you and the practice as the epicenter of expertise.

If you feel as though party planning is not in your future, there are many other opportunities to lend your expertise for a cause. Local dermatologic societies and national dermatologic organizations often organize skin cancer or pediatric events that make your time investment minimal and your positive attitude return high.

Want to do something more unique and sustainable within your practice? Then identify unmet community needs and your unique skill set. Next, see where these two intersect and voila your idea for community outreach is born.

Chambers of commerce and local charity groups are an excellent place to start. If your idea is unique, it may be supported by community grants through local and national dermatologic organizations. My advice is to follow your interests, support the outcome and watch it grow. The fruits will be well worth your effort.