Resources & Information

Nov 27 2017

Making public outreach a priority

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Image for Making public outreach a priority This summer I had the opportunity to do a presentation on the Medical Board to a group of about 100 people at my family reunion in Salisbury. I regularly present to medical professionals about the Board, but it was a rare treat to speak directly with the public (even if they were relations) and see firsthand how NCMB’s message is received. I spent 15 minutes or so describing the Board’s public protection mission and discussing the ways NCMB fulfills it. I also highlighted the main resources NCMB offers to the public, including our online “Look up a doctor or PA” tool. I was pleasantly surprised with how attentive my audience was, and even more so to note that the assorted aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins picked up all the NCMB literature I brought with me.

Reaching the public NCMB is sworn to protect is among the greatest challenges the Board faces. More than 10 million people live in North Carolina and, although NCMB offers a tremendous amount of information on its website, the agency does no advertising to build public awareness of the Board. Last fall, NCMB did a public market research survey that confirmed what many Board Members and staff already suspected: Most North Carolinians have no idea who we are. Our public survey found that only about one out of every 10 individuals who responded (we only accepted responses from state residents who are not licensed physicians or PAs and/or do not work in the medical profession) had heard of the North Carolina Medical Board. Of these, only a handful of respondents had any direct experience with the Board. Clearly, NCMB has some work to do if it is to fulfill its goal to serve as a resource for both the profession and the public.

With this in mind, NCMB added public outreach to its strategic priorities for 2017. So far this year, Board Members and staff have presented to 11 different community groups representing patients and the public (including Rotary Clubs, senior centers, caregiver groups and even a few business networking gatherings), reaching a little over 300 people. This is a modest start, to be sure, but NCMB has appreciated the opportunity to speak, and listen, with people at these events. Board staff have used feedback received during these public events to assess interest in NCMB’s information and to develop ideas for future projects.

I’m told by staff that NCMB had, historically, shied away from presenting to the public because some Board Members and staff feared speakers might face heckling from dissatisfied complainants, or that NCMB would spark concerns among licensees that it was trying to solicit more complaints from patients. So far, the experience of speaking to public audiences has been nothing but positive. Our audiences have received Board speakers with polite interest. Many have told us that they’re glad they now know about NCMB, and that they are glad to know we are here for the benefit and protection of the people of North Carolina. That is, after all, our job.

Be well,

Eleanor E. Greene, MD, MPH
Board President*

*Dr. Greene’s term ended October 31st

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