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AGS19: Leadership and Fundraising Go Hand in Hand

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This year, I had the opportunity to attend the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting that took place in Portland. The pre-conference Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs (ADGAP) Leadership Session about persuasion and fundraising was definitely the highlight of the meeting for me.

During the session, we focused on working in small groups to build our personal narrative. The pre-course work involved us watching two YouTube videos — Susan's Story of Us (Camp Obama: Burbank) and Elliott Fisher: Story of Self — which set the stage for the session. In the latter video, the speaker had emphasized that leaders can use their personal stories to explain why they feel they have been “called to act, to develop a team’s shared purpose, and to build values-based relationships that can survive challenges,” according to the video.

Attendees were asked to fill out a worksheet, “Telling Your Public Story Self, Us, Now” designed by Marshall Ganz, a senior lecturer in leadership at Harvard University, which provided a good framework for self-reflection. I found this part to be an important process that we do not pay attention to often enough in helping us with our passion and career goals.

The lecture titled “Everyone’s a Fundraiser, Might as Well be a Good One” presented by Tim Ritchie was engaging and interactive. Ritchie was very effective in getting the message across and his three-minute speech was a perfect roadmap to outline the structure.  

The small group exercise was very well-structured and had specific instructions and time limits, which allowed each one of us to start the practice of doing the pitch and to provide criticism in a safe environment. Our group used it as a tool for various resources and needs of a project, not just to raise money. It was a great networking opportunity and helped us to get to know about the projects and aspirations of each attendee.

Two presentations given by participants were the cherry on the top, as they were extremely effective. They helped us understand that preparation allows us to channel our passions in a storytelling format, which is a very effective tool to get the buy-in from our audience, be it a board meeting or a community event.

Most importantly, the session explained the importance of the fundraising process and explained how it can be an impactful tool to assist and guide physicians to achieve their goals and aspirations to help society.

Through the value-based training and mindset, geriatricians have a lot to offer to our current health care system. Fundraising, in reality, is an important aspect of population health. We should be providing more sessions around fundraising to our fellows and junior faculty as these skills are not taught during medical school or residency. When our specialty is struggling to attract more clinicians, leadership opportunities could be one of the avenues to attract new talent.

The Peer Coaching Session, which was again a small group session, allowed us to have open discussions about career issues in a friendly environment, offering us each a chance to get some great advice and solutions. Being a small specialty group which has many challenges to face in our current health care system, it is important to have these avenues available for the members.  

Manisha Parulekar, MD, FACP, AGSF, CMD is the chief of the Division of Geriatrics at Hackensack University Medical Center. She is also the program director of the Geriatrics Fellowship at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and an assistant professor at Hackensack.

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