Wheeling Walks Training Manual

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Chapter 9:
Working with Physicians:
Advantages to having Physician Involvement
A Local Wellness Organization's Role in Involving Physicians
Physician' Press Involvement

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Advantages to having Physician Involvement

Physicians are a key component in any wellness change and they can play a key role in the success of a walking campaign.  From Judi Hladek, BS-Ed, CPT, TWBCC, and President of The Wellness Bridge, a WHEELING WALKS partner organizations, here are the 8 top reasons to involve physicians in your walking campaign:

    1.  People will take their physicians’ advice, especially if it is written in the form of a directive or prescription.  Also, the stronger the language the physician uses, the better the chances that the patient will comply.  That is, if the physician "suggests" that a patient try walking ten minutes a day, three times a day, the patient will not be as diligent in following the advice.  Another example is a physician saying, "You need to lose some weight".  This comes through to the patient as a suggestion, not as a prescription, so, in most cases, the patient will not comply.  However, if a physician gives a patient a specific directive, such as, ‘I want you to walk ten minutes a day, and journal your progress daily over one month; then I want you to make another appointment to see me,’ this is now a specific prescription with the time and the number of times the patient needs to walk.

    The more assertive a physician is with a patient in regard to advising walking, the more likely it is that the patient will compliant.  In this way, the prescription pads play a crucial role in a walking campaign.

    Follow-up visits with physicians are also essential so progress can be monitored and a walking prescription updated.  Vital functions such as blood pressure, pulse rates, lung capacity, cholesterol levels, etc., change, therefore, medications may need to be modified as well.  Also, because of the lifestyle changes with increased activity levels from a prescription for 20 minutes of walking every day, this can possibly be changed to 30 minutes of walking every day. 

    Ultimately, as a patient’s fitness level improves and s/he sees the improvement and feels better, s/he is more likely to continue a wellness walking program, even after the campaign ends.  This is ideal.

    2.  It is vital that physicians are involved with a walking campaign to ensure that some people do not get themselves caught up in the advertising of the campaign and end up injuring themselves.  Physician can evaluate a patient’s health status to specifically direct how far and how often s/he should walk to keep safe and healthy.

    3.  Normally, the people who pay attention to a wellness campaign - and WHEELING WALKS is no different - are those people who probably are already involved in some types of wellness habits.  By involving physicians, we now reach more of the community’s population, such as the sedentary or inactive people with no interest in a fitness or wellness program.  Sedentary/inactive folks may make fun of wellness advertising.  However, when their physicians take the initiative to direct them with a specific exercise prescription, they will pay attention. 

    4.  One of the best scenarios is when a physician joins patients in a walking activity, and show that his/her endorsement is not just lip service.  (WHEELING WALKS  held  walking activities throughout the Wheeling area all during the campaign gaving physicians such opportunity to participate with their patients.) 

    5.  Physicians’ active involvement in walking lends extreme credibility to the program.  They are not just talking the talk.  They are walking the walk.

    6.  The advertising that took place during the campaign (i.e., television, radio, newspaper ads, community seminars) accentuated the physician’s role in their patient’s wellness.  Physicians therefore felt responsible to their patients to get involved. 

    7.  The more physicians are actually involved, the more successful the campaign will be.  Their involvement capped the success of the campaign. 

    8. A dramatic side effect for the physician is that they can be pro-active with their patient’s lives instead of reactive to disease.  This becomes an upbeat time in the physician’s day. 

     


A Local Wellness Organization's Role in Involving Physicians

Personal contact is vital in getting physicians to take the campaign seriously.  Also, a community that is going to start a walking campaign needs to work closely with the different wellness organizations in their community.  Finally, the wellness organization that works directly with local physicians needs to be well respected by the community’s physicians. 

Ms. Hladek noted that WHEELING WALKS dovetailed perfectly into The Wellness Bridge mission.  A total wellness program within the Wheeling area, The Wellness Bridge emphasizes lifestyle change, including proper nutrition and exercise, and teaches the value of connecting health to life. 

Consultants within The Wellness Bridge planned and organized methods for reaching local doctors (see Appendix 9A). They then implemented their plan and both delivered and explained the campaign’s educational materials to local physicians: 

    (1) a Patient Information Sheet for the doctors to give to patients to encourage    them to walk,
         including a log sheet to record the minutes and miles walked daily (Appendix 9B) .

    (2) Prescription Pads with 50 prescriptions (Appendix 9C).

During the length of the campaign, The Wellness Bridge consultants periodically visited the physician’s offices to replace any supplies that were needed.  At this time they also ask how patients were responding to the campaign.

The visits communicated that the campaign had a serious and long-term message. They were also the “push” physicians needed to begin and to continue prescribing walking.


Physician' Press Involvement

As detailed in Chapter 7, a special campaign media event--the Physician’s Press Conference--was devoted to both involving and honoring local physicians.  Many were most willing to participate when asked and key to making the event possible was the advance organizing.  As very busy professionals, physicians would not be able to take the time to organize such an event, however, having everything prepared so they can essentially walk on and off the stage with few other responsibilities, makes it possible.

See Chapter 7 for details.

 

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