Whether your practice is located in a town of 2,000 or a city of 2 million, putting time and effort into community activities is both a smart business move and, given that healthcare has been largely immune from the impact of the recent recession, the generous thing to do. The first step toward community involvement is deciding what you value and which organizations or causes are aligned with those values. Is health education of youth high on your priority list? If so, there are likely opportunities within the local school system to help out. Are you passionate about cancer awareness, prevention, and research? You can get involved and gain visibility for your efforts by helping organizations that raise funds for these efforts. Here are few specific ways your practice can get involved at the local level.
Fundraising events. Even in the smallest communities, there are annual events that raise money for breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease prevention, and other health and wellness causes. Getting the whole office involved (assuming they’re interested and willing) in doing a charity walk or run is great for camaraderie, will help raise funds for a worthy cause, and give your practice positive visibility within the community. Depending on your specialty, you might also consider making donations of services to organizations that hold silent auctions to raise money (e.g., a free exam and cleaning if you’re a dentist or a $100 gift certificate toward cosmetic services if you’re a dermatologist).
In the schools. Public schools nationwide are strapped for funding and any free or discounted service you are in a position to provide would likely be met with open arms. You could offer to give free screening exams to specific groups of students, conduct low-cost or no-cost school or sports physicals, give lectures to children, teachers, and/or parents, or volunteer to be a team doctor or coach for a school sports teams.
Community education. Civic clubs and business organizations are always in need of speakers for their monthly or quarterly gatherings. Offer to speak on health topics that appeal to general audiences at your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, veteran’s groups, or health-related support groups that meet regularly. Check with the marketing or public relations office at your local hospital about speaking opportunities they may have for you. Giving lectures and presentations to the community is a wonderful public service, not to mention good exposure for your practice.
Health fairs. These events, often sponsored by hospitals or health departments, are always in need of healthcare professionals willing to donate a few hours of their time. Get your name on the list to be contacted by event organizers when health fairs are being planned in your community.
If you truly have no time for hands-on community involvement, there is never a shortage of organizations in need of financial assistance. Cash is always appreciated by community groups and these contributions are often tax-deductible. Again, consider which organizations in your area do work that is in keeping with your practice’s values and philosophy and break out the checkbook whenever possible.