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Engaging Partners

 
Resources for Engaging Health Care Providers

Adolescent Health and Youth Development: Turning Social Policy into Public Health Practice

This article by Richard Kreipe, MD, makes the connection between the positive youth development approach and public health.

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NYPATH

This initiative provides resources for health care providers who serve adolescents in New York State.

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Bright Futures

This health promotion initiative welcomes communities as "partners in health practice."

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Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, November 2006 Supplement

"Improving Public Health Through Youth Development" is the theme of this issue.

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Engaging Health Care Providers

For positive youth development initiatives to achieve positive outcomes, it's important to engage community partners from as many sectors as possible in community collaboration.

Why Connect with the Health Care Community?

Health care providers are connected to youth. Your youth development initiative may wish to connect first with health providers that are especially youth-focused, such as the staff of school-based health centers.

Health care providers bring clout as well as special expertise to the table.

Interests in common. Youth initiatives and the health care community both care about:

  • Improving health outcomes. Positive youth development initiatives are often used as a public health strategy.
     
  • Connecting youth to services. Youth initiatives, health care providers, and health educators typically want young people to be informed about and have access to health care services.

Talking Points for Engaging the Health Care Community

Describe Who You Are Succinctly

"Our initiative brings local organizations together to make our community a great -- and healthy -- place to grow up. Through our efforts, adults and youth take action together to create a community that values youth and builds the competencies young people need for healthy and fulfilling lives."

What's in it for Health Care Providers?

Supporting Adolescent Health
  • Positive youth development is an effective long-term strategy for preventing problems and promoting health. Youth development is a public health approach (PDF).
     
  • The CDC and Bureau of Maternal and Child Health have incorporated a youth development perspective into the National Initiative to Improve Adolescent Health.
     
  • Research tells us that even when youth have many risk factors, young people are more likely to have healthy lives when they have positive relationships with adults in their families and communities, are connected to school, and have opportunities to build skills and to contribute.
     
  • "Our initiative puts this knowledge to work by creating a supportive, protective environment and meaningful opportunities for youth in our community."
Access to Services
  • "With your involvement, we can connect young people to the information and services they need for better physical and mental health."
     
  • "Our initiative can help you make your services more youth-friendly."

How Can Health Care Providers Get Involved?

These ideas will help you get started, but of course it's best to focus on the specific needs of your initiative or project. When making your pitch, choose a few items that range from low to high commitment.
  • Collaborate on planning a special event or educational opportunity in your community. Health care providers who offer services specifically for adolescents might consider a youth open house; young people and other initiative members could assist in making the event youth-friendly.
     
  • Help the youth development initiative reach out to other health care providers.
     
  • Accompany initiative delegations to meetings with government officials.
     
  • Collaborate on creating internship and certificate programs for young people.
     
  • Be a youth development champion in the community: help the youth development initiative articulate the connections between positive youth development and health.
     
  • Take on a leadership role in the initiative.

Tips for Including Health Care Providers

Remember: it's a business. Don't limit your appeal to health care providers to compassion and altruism alone. Remember that many health care organizations, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, are businesses -- see Engaging the Business Community.

Don't focus on doctors alone. The holistic approach that nurses bring to health care resonates with the youth development approach, and nurses also bring clout and expertise to the table. Front office staff are key to youth-friendly health services. Public health practitioners share the youth development focus on creating healthy environments for populations. Health educators, city/county health departments, family planning centers, mental health associations, and local chapters of national health organizations may all be natural partners.

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