By Laura Offutt, MD
As physicians, we know that education can go a long way toward preventing future health problems. That's why we need your participation in our second annual Pennsylvania Teen Health Week.
As a physician myself, I know how demanding it can be to squeeze something extra into your schedule. But participation can be as easy as wearing lime green and being willing to tell your patients where they can find information about this event.
Here's a little background.
Pennsylvania Teen Health Week empowers teens to live healthier lives by learning about health issues that typically impact them. I'm proud to say that Pennsylvania became the first and only state to have such a state-wide proclamation and observance when we celebrated the first ever Pennsylvania Teen Health Week in January 2016, as proclaimed by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Based on a successful first year, Gov. Wolf has proclaimed Jan. 9-13, 2017, the 2nd Annual Pennsylvania Teen Health Week. Each day has a specific broad health focus:
- Monday, Jan. 9: Healthy Diet and Exercise
- Tuesday, Jan. 10: Violence Prevention
- Wednesday, Jan. 11: Mental Health
- Thursday, Jan. 12: Sexual Development and Health
- Friday, Jan. 13: Substance Use and Abuse.
It is easy for physicians and their medical practices to be a part of this special week. Involvement can be as simple as hanging a flyer announcing the week in your office or wearing lime green, the official color of Teen Health Week.
A comprehensive toolkit has been developed which includes suggestions for activities, sample social media posts, and a variety of resources which are organized around the broad themes covered in the week.
Specifically, for medical organizations, here are a few ideas of how you can mark the week:
- Wear or decorate your office lime green, the official Teen Health Week color.
- Share or post educational materials focused in each day's health theme with patients and families.
- Wish your patients a "Happy Teen Health Week."
- Use your practice's social media presence to share posts about teen health such as those fully drafted in the toolkit.
- Partner with a local business and have them provide teen health week favors for your practice.
- Partner with a local school to provide educational materials or offer to run an Ask the Doc session for students.
- Take out an advertisement in local papers to share what you are doing to improve the health of teens in your practice during Teen Health Week and beyond.
- Draft a letter to the editor of a local paper about a teen health topic.
- Host a Teen Health Week open house for your practice.
- Attend a local event, such as the kick-off at the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg, or the Friday, Jan. 13, celebration at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. If neither are near you, plan your own ripple event in your community.
Pennsylvania Teen Health Week has been developed by Real Talk with Dr. Offutt, LLC, and in collaboration with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The Delaware County Medical Society and the Pennsylvania Medical Society have been strong supporters of this initiative since its inception, and this year, the Pennsylvania Medical Society passed a resolution asking all members to participate in the week this coming January.
The establishment of a Teen Health Week calls upon adults and health care and educational institutions to focus on the health needs of this special population.
Information about Pennsylvania Teen Health Week, including a video and pictures from the past Teen Health Week can be found at http://realtalkwithdroffutt.com/teen-health-week.html. On this webpage as well, the toolkit and other media are available for download.
If any Pennsylvania Medical Society members have questions about the week, they are welcome to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (610) 420-6140.
Guest blogger Laura Offutt, MD, is a volunteer internal medicine physician who lives in Delaware County and is a PAMED member. When not seeing patients, she uses social media and her blog-based website to engage adolescents with teen-friendly, accurate health information and is a youth mentor and advocate. Dr. Offutt is a member of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, the American College of Physicians and is a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.