Community-Based Careers: Dedicating Your Life to Good Deeds

During the day you work in an office doing whatever it is that you have become so skilled at doing. You use the little spare time you have to run marathons, organize fundraisers, join rallies, and do whatever else you can to participate in local initiatives and causes. But despite your efforts to split yourself in two, you still feel like what you're doing for the community isn't enough.

First off, don't be so hard on yourself. The fact that you even want to dedicate yourself to community projects is in itself extremely admirable. Second, there exist two incredible industries that that will allow you to reconcile your need for an income with your dedication to community involvement. Here they are:

Health, Wellness and Fitness

Health is among the most prevalent issues that every society must address. Ensuring that a society is strong and prosperous will necessarily involve ensuring that it is also healthy. The issue at hand, of course, is that no government or state can force healthy habits upon its citizens. While some governments have developed laws and policies that make it harder for people to make bad health choices (i.e. increased taxes on tobacco products) and easier to make good health choices (i.e. more access to affordable, local produce) there still remains a dire need for societies to adopt healthier lifestyles.

That said, a worthy career venture to take on would be that of a health, wellness, and fitness advisor. Doing so would put you in a position to help people understand why and how they should adopt healthier lifestyles.

Typical Health, Wellness and Fitness programs include the following community courses:

- Exercise Techniques

- Critical Analysis for Health, Wellness & Fitness

- Nutrition

- Theories of Weight Management

- Aerobic Training

- Fitness Equipment & Facilities

- Health Issues in Canada

Sport Injuries

Social Services

We all know that it is vital for people to maintain a healthy lifestyle on both the physical and emotional levels. The difficult part about this is receiving the necessary guidance and support to achieve both of these levels of wellness.

Careers within the social services industry include, but are not limited to, mental health workers, guidance counsellors and employment counsellors. By working in the social services industry, you will be able to take on the role of someone who not only educates people on how to maintain a good, balanced mental state, but also protects them by way of educating them on what their rights are as a person.

A Social Services Worker Diploma is a type of Urban Studies program, and can often include the following courses:

- History & Ethics of Social Work

- Introduction to Group Dynamics

- Privilege & Oppression

- Working with Children & Adolescence

- Issues Related to Family

- Crisis Intervention

- Community Change

- Social Policy & Law

Being a health advisor or a social worker will involve earning a diploma in a Community and Urban Studies program. The majority of the curriculum in either program will deal with community courses, ones that aim to educate aspiring community professionals on how to communicate with the different segments of the population and how assess varying issues.

Community professionals are vital to any society and help maintain a healthy and thriving population. You've reach a point in your life where you are torn between your career aspirations and your desire to want to help people on a daily basis, and now you know how to reconcile the two.

Visit Mohawk College for more information on Community courses and programs.

The Kwanza of Physician Health

Kwanza is an African American holiday that begins on December 26th and ends on December 31st. It is based on West African principles of the self in relationship to family and community. Although Kwanzaa is defined in relation to individual and social constructs it can also be viewed as a powerful tool for promoting physician and healthcare worker wellness and community health.

The six principles of Kwanza are directly applicable to physician and health care worker wellbeing and health:

n Umoja-Unity: Family and Community Support for your well being and the practice of medicine.

n Kujichagulia Self-Determination: Define Your Calling, Create and Live It.

n Ujima Collective Work and Responsibility: Advocate for our own and your patient's health together.

n Nia Purpose: Pool physician resources to sustain and develop institutions, practices, groups and health plans for promoting health and wellness of all people.

n Kuumba Creativity: To do as much as you can to innovatively promote wellness in yourself and your community.

n Imani Faith: To maintain and respect your spiritual roots and the interrelatedness of mind, spirit, and body.

Although Kwanza is based on West African Principles, this philosophy is universal. Incorporating these principles will promote wellbeing and ameliorate compassion fatigue in not only physicians, nurses and other health care workers. Remembering and acknowledging the Kwanza Dimensions of Health each and everyday will keep everyone on the path of health, as well as personal and professional joy and success. An individual is only as healthy and successful as his/her family, the community, the nation, and the world.

Lori-Linell Hall, M.D, P.C.C., F.A.C.O.G . is an executive and career coach to physicians and health care workers who are dissatisfied with their medical careers. She helps physicians achieve unlimited success by discovering and developing their unique abilities, unrecognized strengths, dormant talents and excavating their buried dreams and passions to create a new path within or outside health care. Contact Dr. Hall at

Community Health Assessment Tools In A Developing Society

Community health nursing synthesis the body of knowledge from the public health sciences and professional nursing theories for the purpose of improving the health of the entire community. Community health nursing practice therefore promotes and preserves the health of the population. The community is not an easily or consistently defined entity. It is a nebulous, complex concept. Thus a community in its broadest sense will be defined as a group of people living in an environment that has the ability to meet their life goals and needs.

The entry into the community is usually made possible by the chief medical officer through the issuance of letters to community leaders for easy acceptability and accessibility. Critical to the dynamics of a community are its patterns of communication, leadership and decision making and this occurs as a result of interaction between community members and the larger society. The different components of this community include people, environment and health care delivery system and together they determine the physical, social, mental states of wellness of the people.

For the people component there is:

a. Demographics such as population distribution, mobility, density and census data;
b. Biological aspects will include health and disease status, province/state of origin, nationality, age, sex, mortality.
c. Acquired aspects are twofold, social which takes into account occupation, activities, marital status, education, religion and cultural which include position, roles value, customs, norms, taboos.

For the environmental component there is:

a. Physical aspect which include natural resources, landscape, climate, terrain, relief, boundaries and limits;
b. Biological and chemical aspects such as animal reservoirs, toxic substances, food supply, standard of food control, water source, staple food, vector control, living arrangement, sewage disposal, water supply and refuse disposal;
c. Social aspects involve industry and economics, communication, transportation, recreation/recreational facilities and religion.

For the health care delivery system component, there is:

a. The organizational aspect involving government and private sectors, systems, linkages and
b. Resources which involve health personnel, health centers, clinics and hospitals, funds, services.

Through the complete understanding of these different components, then can health promotion, disease prevention and rehabilitative measures be implemented. Promoting health of the people and their welfare can be done through health education to both individuals and families. During these education sessions, various aspects of diseases, their prevention can be given as well as ways of rehabilitation when calamity strikes.

Community health problems will then be arrived at through two ways:

a. As perceived by the community and then
b. As perceived by the community health nurse.

A community diagnosis will then be reached, which can range from one to several. Recommendations can then be made to the appropriate people concerned.

In conclusion, the community health nurse, in doing this assessment, must strive to work as a team with the community involved and he/she must be able to achieve if not all, some of the eight components of primary health care, such as immunization against infectious diseases, an adequate supply of safe water, education concerning prevailing health problems and the methods of preventing and controlling them.


A Conceptual Approach to Community Health Screenings For Hospitals

The heart of a community's care is at its most trusted hospitals. In the same way that blood flows into and out of the heart, your hospital's message should flow out into the community with grass-roots marketing efforts in order to bring patients back into your hospital for care. By this I mean that a hospital's marketing efforts should not only focus on drawing patients into their facilities with billboards and magazine ads, but go beyond basic marketing efforts and into the community by offering free health screening events. In my experience working with one of the best hospitals in the South, I came to discover an effective system for coordinating free community health screenings that significantly increased patient volume to the hospital. What I have discovered is a concept, and I will explain the most successful way to develop your own community screenings program so that it will become a consistent source of revenue to your hospital, and build long-term patient loyalty.

In my experience working with a hospital in the South, I coordinated a community outreach program that offered free EKG testing. These tests were taken at free community events and were later confirmed as normal, borderline, or abnormal in the hospital's clinical database and were stored as baselines for each of the patients who attended the community events. In notifying the attendees of their results by mail, the attendees received a confirmed copy of their EKG which they could keep for their own records. The EKG program increased volume and accounted for $6M in hospital charges from June 2008 to August 2009. The EKG program brought in $2.5M in second quarter 2008, $1.6M in fourth quarter 2008, and $1.9M in first quarter 2009. This data was last updated in August of 2009.

There are many reasons why the EKG test is the most effective for driving volume for cardiac procedures, and generating revenue in total hospital admissions. These reasons include the nature of the EKG test itself, CRM and the process of event planning, and the follow-up that creates patient loyalty.

The first and most important reason why the EKG test is ideal for community events is because of the simple nature of the test itself. With the EKG test, the result can only be 1 of 3 things - abnormal, borderline, or normal. The EKG tests can be taken at the community event, the results can be processed at the hospital, and the confirmed results can be mailed to the attendee within 2 weeks of the community event. The fact that the EKG result comes in the form of a single paper report makes it easy to mail, and can be stored in a person's medical file for their own records.

If an attendee receives abnormal or borderline test results in the mail, they are also likely to follow up if given a call to action. From my experience in coordinating this campaign for over a year, 9% of EKG tracings were found to be abnormal, 11% were borderline, and 80% were normal. Out of 875 guests that received EKG's among 9 community events between February and April, there were 181 borderline or abnormal results. Among these 181 people, 162 people followed up with the hospital's call center for either a physician referral, an inquiry about the result, or a request for information from agencies that help the uninsured.

With a screening such as a carotid ultrasound, the spectrum of abnormality is more diverse - it is more complex and too specific of a test for a community offering. Also, an ultrasound machine is usually costly, and if a hospital's marketing department does not purchase its own equipment, there is a risk of damage in borrowing machinery from the hospital, if the event is held offsite. EKG machines are relatively inexpensive in comparison if they are being used for the purpose of offering free tests as a community outreach program. The hourly cost of an ultrasound technician in comparison to a medical assistant is also a factor to consider.

With a screening such as a full lipid panel, results are sensitive, so participants are advised to fast for the best results. An EKG test does not require fasting. EKG tests usually take less than five minutes on average. That means more EKG's can be done at events with less staffing.

The idea of storing EKG's as a baseline is also a marketable service - patients are made aware that if their EKG tracing is stored at your hospital, then heart care is readily available to them at your hospital too.

Another important step to creating a successful community EKG program is to advertise the events through direct mail and coordinate the process of booking appointments for these events. Research is performed to select the best zip codes in the community that have the highest household income to increase the likelihood of attracting a favorable payor mix to the events. A mailer should also be targeted for people who have the highest incidence of heart disease - those aged 45 and up. Once a direct mailer goes out, appointments can be booked for a full day. With 2 EKG technicians and 2 machines, over 100 people can receive EKG screenings in an 8 hour day.

In my experience, the appointments were successfully booked through the hospital's call center once the direct mailer reached homes. The information obtained through the call center is requested by the hospital's marketing department, and usually includes basic personal information such as first name, last name, date of birth, phone number, and address. Any basic information can be requested from the guest by the call center. This information can be used for a few purposes.

The first purpose is that it keeps an appointment log for the day of the event. The second is that this information is later used to process and send the results of the screenings to the person's house. The action of following up with the guest is the most important part of gaining patient loyalty.

Finally, by holding community events several times per year, there will be a loyalty group that forms a customer relationship with your hospital. In my experience, I have seen the number of loyal patients who regularly attended the hospital's community events. In the campaign of EKG screenings held between February and April of 2009, 71 guests had previously attended the hospital's community EKG events several months prior.

Building patient loyalty is simple, and there are multiple ways in which a hospital can do this creatively. A hospital should always follow up with guests who attended community screening events. Make sure that the results of their testing arrive in a timely manner. Make sure that the content of their results letter emphasizes the availability of care at your hospital. Think of creative ways to send the message of trusted care to the audience, and ways to keep them connected to you. One simple way of doing this is printing a patient identification card that includes the attendee's MRI number. If a person was to return to the hospital's emergency department with chest pain and present their patient identification card, the hospital's EKG department can quickly access their baseline EKG for a comparison.

Another way of building patient loyalty is through the use of a "patient care coordinator." Many hospitals implement a "patient care coordinator" who follows up with patients receiving serious care. In my experience, a patient care coordinator was successfully implemented in a campaign of community EKG screenings between June and July of 2008. During this campaign, attendees of the events who had borderline and abnormal results were contacted for follow up by a registered nurse. Of the 242 people who had non-normal results, 144 received physician referrals to seek follow up care. The remaining attendees were under the care of a cardiologist already, or declined to take action.

You might be thinking, "So if my hospital develops a free EKG program, I will have both long term patient loyalty and significant admissions within 3 - 6 months following a campaign of screening events?" The answer is a flat, simple yes.

If a hospital is interested in pursuing a community program that offers free health screenings, I strongly recommend structuring the program to involve free EKG testing. In comparison to other screenings, such as cholesterol testing and carotid ultrasound, EKG testing stands to show the most consistent success, and proves to be the most conducive for a community offering. It is a simple test that is non-invasive, and its simplicity allows several avenues for patient follow up. These avenues include uploading the EKG in the hospital's database as a baseline, mailing a copy of the report to the attendee's house after the event, and following up with the patient through the use of a patient care coordinator.

There are many more details that are involved in the development of an EKG program at a hospital. Those details may vary depending upon the resources available at your hospital. However, it is my belief that in working together as a team, any hospital can develop a successful community screenings program that will prove to be beneficial by producing revenue in the short term, and building patient loyalty in the long term.

By: Kevin Felker

Kevin Felker is a consultant specializing in marketing for hospitals. He has a niche for developing in-house community health programs to promote cardiovascular services. Follow him at