How to Leverage Our Voices, Our Patients and Social Media

Fed up with learning that many kids in her community were getting the measles, Dr. Natasha Burgert decided to take the vaccine epidemic in her city head on.

Over the 12 weeks of summer, she partnered with her patient’s families to support ShotAtLife. This vaccine advocacy group allowed her to have a way to actively respond to the measles epidemic that affected her Kansas City community.

In just a few weeks, she collected $6,740. That is enough to protect 1,348 children against measles.

Click on the video below and you’ll see her story.

I think there are so many lessons for those of us that work in pediatrics.

I can’t think of a better public display of advocacy for the pediatric community. I also appreciate how she is leveraging her social media platform (ie blogging, Twitter, YoutTube, etc), to get her message out.

But more important to me, is how she is wisely using her status as a trusted source of medical information to reach out to her community in an effort to bring awareness to a cause she feels deeply about.

What I love the most about Dr. Burgert’s initiative  is that she didn’t wait for the AAP to initiate the campaign or any other large entity. She took matters into her own hands with the resources she has; which includes her voice, her relationships with parents, and her social media platform.

Almost all pediatricians have a voice. Something they feel passionate about. And all pediatricians have strong relationships with their patients. But most pediatricians do not have a strong online presence that will give them the opportunity to be heard or to influence more than a few patients at a time.

Think about this… the AAP has 60,000 members. Let’s say only 10% of those 60,000 members had a strong online presence. That is 6000 pediatricians. Right?

Now, Dr. Burgert raised $6740 in just a few weeks. Let’s say each of those 6000 pediatrician raised half of what Dr. Burgert raised ($3370). That would be over $20,000,000 when one multiplies $3370 x 6000.

Just imagine what kind of an impact 6000 pediatricians (only 10% of the AAP membership) would have if that scenario played out.

Think about what type of a message pediatricians would be sending to their patients and their community. Think about how the media would react.

By the way, I’m not suggesting that we all get behind Dr. Burgert’s measles initiative (although I believe it is a great one to support). Everybody is free to support what they want, of course.

What I’m trying to point out is that with social media, a cause, and our position of influence with our families and patients, pediatricians could cause a lot of disruption, in the good sense.

My last point is this… movements rarely start within the establishment. It has to come from the fringe, from the unconventional, and sometimes the extreme.

Dr. Burgert has an awesome blog. She also Tweets. And apparently she is an avid texter. She was recently featured in a NYT article where she talked about how she uses text with her teenage patients. Dr. Burgert is also a regular contributor to Survivor Pediatrics.