As hospital medicine continues to experience unparalleled growth, the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) seeks to supplement its chapter program via a new $100,000 Chapter Development Fund. The monies will be used to further enhance the reach and impact of SHM’s 50 regional chapters.
Chapters can request up to $5,000 from the fund annually to support projects that promote networking, education, leadership opportunities, and improvements in health care delivery. In addition to growing the chapters, SHM expects that the additional resources will help facilitate relationships with local hospitals and medical schools, and demonstrate the value of membership.
The fund establishes a centralized, consistent source of financial support for chapter activities, which previously relied on external sponsorship that varied from year to year. Chapters can submit a plan to the SHM Chapter Support Committee, which will evaluate requests for “innovation, the potential to grow and engage membership, and improve sustainability,” says Rachel Thompson, MD, SFHM, chair of SHM’s Chapter Support Committee.
“Chapters that were struggling now feel that they have the support they need to improve, and the ones that have figured out the basics can push their creative limits. That innovation can be passed along and benefit [all chapters],” Dr. Thompson said.
Fund usage already has led to a number of success stories (see Figure 1). During the program’s pilot phase, six chapters – Gulf States, Iowa, Los Angeles, Michigan, New Mexico, and San Francisco – acquired 77 new SHM members through a variety of innovative methods.
With a $5,000 boost, the Gulf States Chapter increased its membership by 10% with a new meeting and member engagement plan.
“We were struggling in recruitment, and saw this as an opportunity to attract members,” said chapter leader Venkataraman Palabindala, MD. “We used the funds to create 15 ‘coupons’ for membership. The rest of the money [was used] to start a regional meeting … where chapter leaders were invited to lead talks. [The meeting] really helped us.”
Another example of success comes from the Iowa Chapter, which attracted 14 new members through a multidisciplinary membership drive.
“We … requested funding for a few specific areas. One was marketing, where we had fliers written up to target specific groups, including … students, APPs (advanced practice practitioners), residents, students, and pharmacists, as well as other physicians,” said chapter leader Melinda Johnson, MD, SFHM.
The Iowa Chapter also used funding for SHM-branded “giveaways” (coffee mugs, portable chargers, etc.) to leave behind during meetings with prospective members. Vouchers, offering a 50% discount on a 1-year membership for new members during the pilot program, were especially effective. The combined activities “really increased visibility for SHM within our state and with disciplines besides physicians,” Dr. Johnson said.
Chapters can apply for support on a rolling basis by submitting a proposal to the Chapter Support Committee. For the full details, visit www.hospitalmedicine.org/chapterdevelopment.
When thinking about ideas, Dr. Thompson advises chapters to begin with “a brainstorm of all of the … exciting things that you have wanted to do for your membership. Then think about the ones that are attainable, and map out how to get there. The pilot showed that in a short time, you can reach many people when you plan your project out with timing and specific goals … and let the committee support you.”
In addition to a financial boost, fund recipients enjoy personalized mentorship from the committee, a benefit that both Dr. Johnson and Dr. Palabindala found invaluable. For new and developing chapters, “the support you get, the money, as well as the goal setting and feedback, is amazing,” Dr. Palabindala said.
Chapters, Dr. Johnson said, provide members with networking and leadership opportunities – and ensure that the unique, localized needs of their communities are represented at SHM.
“They become your professional home, providing opportunities,” she said, “that improve personal and professional satisfaction. Anyone is welcome to participate in the conversation.”
For more information on how you can become involved in an SHM chapter, visit www.hospitalmedicine.org/chapters.
Claudia Stahl is a content manager for the Society of Hospital Medicine.