Kirsten Lecky and I had the privilege of representing WriterGirl at the AAMC Conference 2018 on March 21-23, coming home with our heads full of insights and ideas from our three days in Seattle.

The Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Institutional Advancement (AAMC GIA) sponsors this professional development conference. More than 600 people, primarily from medical colleges and academic medical centers, participated — a delightful and engaging group of fundraising, communication and marketing professionals from the academic medicine community!

With an expanded network and increased knowledge, here are three takeaways I gained from the conversations and presentations at the AAMC conference 2018:

Marketing’s a delicate dance

Raising the profile of academic medicine requires a collaborative and sensitive approach. Your partners — including physicians, affiliated hospitals and other groups — may be competing for the attention of your target audience. The Medical College of Wisconsin was able to thread the needle with their branding efforts and effectively explain the contribution of academic medicine in this video. A well-designed and thoughtfully communicated branding campaign, like MCW created, lifts all healthcare stakeholders.

Content is king and always hungry

Everyone I spoke to and every speaker agreed: No one has enough resources to get the job done the way they’d like. Content demands of media relations, social media, publications, outreach, proposals and websites are infinite, but time is not. Some suggestions on how to cope include:

  • Establish strategic priorities based on your business goals and focus your efforts there.
  • Measure and analyze results to see what’s working (and quit doing what’s not working).
  • Repurpose your content to squeeze more out of your investment. (One presenter said their rule is to use everything in eight different ways).
  • Actually say “no” to some requests and train staff with proper language to explain why to internal stakeholders.
  • Bring in a professional healthcare writing company to extend your capacity. (Okay, this tip came from the WriterGirl exhibit!)

Medical schools are the same and different

A surprising number of people represented young medical colleges at the conference. The AAMC reports 22 new medical schools have opened since 2007, with two of those within the last year.

Although these programs provide medical education, each school has a unique vision and purpose. One school might exist to keep medical students local to better serve their community, while another institution’s goal might be to produce the world’s most sought after physician educators and researchers. Whether an established medical school, or one that opened more recently, they all have one thing in common: They share the need to raise awareness, support and recruit faculty and students. Each program needs to communicate clear and compelling messages to their constituents in their own voice..

Overall, we came away from the 2018 AAMC conference with a deeper understanding of the challenges academic medicine faces, and energized to help our clients meet their goals.

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