Through local community service, otolaryngologists are using their medical skills, knowledge, and connections to improve public health and empower patients.
Community service can help forge community connections, inspire the next generation, and help physicians find a deep sense of personal satisfaction.
Otolaryngologists involved in community out-reach offer these tips:
Look and listen. Don’t presume you know what your community needs. Talk to your patients and listen to what they have to say. Visit community gathering spots and engage the locals in conversation. “People know what they need,” Dr. Moore said. “You just have to listen to them.”
Block off time. All physicians are busy, and it’s easy to let medicine consume your life. However, scheduling time for community engagement isn’t only good for your community; it’s good for you too. “It’s an extremely enriching experience to work outside of medicine from time to time,” Dr. Welling said. “It also helps keep you in balance.” You can start small: Volunteer with a local charity once a month for an hour.
Embrace your unique position. All humans have unique gifts and talents. As an African-American man from Detroit, Dr. Jones is uniquely positioned to inspire African-American youth. As an active member of the LDS Church, Dr. Welling is connected with a community with a long history of service and built-in infrastructure. Dr. Moore’s interest in health disparities blossomed into a host of public health initiatives. Taking a mental inventory of your skills, interests and passions can help you direct your energy.
Connect human to human. “People really appreciate it when you step out of your white coat and roll up your sleeves and help with things that are common to humankind,” Dr. Welling said. Drop your professional pretenses; be willing to be a learner rather than a leader, especially at first. Ask questions as needed.
Amplify your outreach. Working alone, there’s no way Dr. Moore could have built the HEALing Community Center and expanded it to four different locations—while also maintaining a busy clinical schedule. “When you work with folks that have skillsets that compliment yours, together you can get a lot accomplished,” Dr. Moore said. Working with others also allows you to balance your professional responsibilities with your community work. “I have some flexibility in my church responsibilities because we have many dedicated youth leaders who serve together,” Dr. Welling said. “We plan ahead, so when schedules are crazy, we can usually keep things covered.”