By Temitope Ben-Ajepe
Just before you proceed: This post is a month late.
I had the opportunity to work on a community health project in the past month. It was exhilarating; in the sense that I had never before been charged with organizing a medical outreach and I was just so excited to get to the job done properly, it was also quite educative; I learned more about myself as a person than I ever have in the past decade combined and added to the growing skill set as I went along and the best part? It was fun.
More importantly, I learned lessons that every Pharmacy student could use if ever faced with having to organize a medical outreach at (what seemed to be) the drop of a hat.
The first and most important thing to get sorted when you first get started is the team you’ll be working with. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized and here’s why: It might come across as a tad cliché but you’re only ever as good as your team (Read: the people you’re working with to the actualization of a goal). They affect things in every way and form imaginable. They are the combination of skills you lack and affect the quality of decisions to be made by way of the information brought to the table. Also, since there’s no way you can possibly be everywhere at the same time, you will need to have to rely on the eyes, ears, hands and even intellectual prowess of other team members to get jobs done and tasks completed.
Having said this, in drafting a team, you should be on the lookout for competent, reliable and self-motivated people to work with. It is with this team that you can conquer the world. Sure, having friendly faces around sounds nice but you want people who are able to meet up with deliverables and understand how delegation works to avoid petty tirades and undesirable outcomes. (Disclaimer: There might be slight disagreements between team members. Be honest enough to acknowledge that we are after all humans and not Kryptonians).
Once I had my team together, it was a lot easier whilst communicating with our sponsors. Our sponsors, a mobile platform that helps expectant and young, nursing mothers keep a tab on the growth of their children had their own ideas on how they wanted things done as regards to the medical outreach even down to the social media hash tag. Communication is a major key alert, in the words of the great DJ Khaleed, one you can’t ever go wrong with. Communicate with your team members and sponsors/partners. It was our job to communicate reasonably why some of our sponsors’ ideas weren’t feasible and propose even better suggestion in replacement. Having quite the intimidating profile and giant partners stationed behind them (the United States Department of State) heightened the motivation to do a thorough job and in order to do that, we had to be open and receptive to everything they were saying and smart and alert to articulate our responses.
Of course, there’s more to organizing a medical outreach but with these two on lockdown, you have everything else covered. Great communication skills – written and oral come in handy whilst preparing a budget, sensitizing the locals on all the event’s details, negotiating good deals on logistical issues such as securing a hall and renting a public address system and you’ll never know, someone on your team just might be BFFs (Best Friends Forever) with the president of the medical students’ association chapter in your school! Because: what outreach is complete without doctors and their upcoming generation?
And don’t forget, when your event is wildly successful, celebrate those who worked alongside you to. make it happen because they rock. In other words, food!
The write is an aspiring pharmacist and wordsmith. Interested in mobile health, big data and tweets from @temi_benjamin.