For many of us, Brandon Kohrt’s recent blog post struck home. In it he says:
“Being involved in the Physicians for Human Rights Student Program [is] one of the most rewarding and career-shaping experiences of medical school.”
PHR Student Chapters make a tremendous difference in shaping the way we use our power to bring about change. Building a strong advocacy community at our respective schools means building a stronger community among the world’s future health and human rights leaders.
With only a couple weeks before we start school, this is a great time to start gearing up for this year’s PHR events and programming. It is never too early to get together with your board and start assessing the outcomes of last year’s programs and discussing new ideas for this year. The Student Chapter Toolbox is a great way to get started. And Danielle Fox gives some excellent advice on Leadership Transitioning.
At the end of last year, my board and I got together over a potluck meal, reviewed our favorite lunch lectures of the year, discussed our goals for the coming year, and brainstormed ways to meet those goals:
- Enhancing our PHR-run Cultural Competency and Health Disparities Elective
- Hosting a talent show that would raise awareness and funds for a particular local or global charity
- Showing relevant films, such as Unnatural Causes
- Getting more student members registered with the PHR Action Center
- Building a stronger advocacy network on-campus through partnerships with other undergraduate and graduate student groups
- Better ways to recruit incoming medical students early
With regard to engaging new students early on, we plan to host a lunch lecture panel on Health Justice and Advocacy as a Medical Student during Orientation Week, partnering with student chapters of the American Medical Students Association and Doctors for America. Current students active in PHR and other rights-based campaigns will discuss their experiences and answer questions to spark the interest of new students. We wish to engage students in a dialogue that will help them remain committed to the ideals that led them to medical school.
Also during Orientation, we will host a sign-up table at the Student Organization Fair. Giving away candy or other freebies with information about PHR might be one way to entice students to learn more about our group when they are likely experiencing information-overload.
During the second week of school, we hope to host an Ice Cream Social to share what PHR is all about and get to know new students in a more informal, community-building way.
Connecting with the outside community can help build a stronger network of students interested in Health Justice and Advocacy. One way to do this is through group community service, which our chapter has traditionally done at a soup kitchen for a local homeless shelter. Another way is by attending film screenings, plays, and other community events that raise awareness about particular human rights issues.
As we all work on building strong PHR Student Chapters, why not share our ideas, challenges, and successes? Leave a comment to this post and tell us what your chapter is planning for this year.