2018 Schweitzer Leadership Conference Recap from Evan Fry - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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2018 Schweitzer Leadership Conference Recap from Evan Fry

November 30, 2018 Written By: Guest Author

We’re pleased to present this guest post from 2018-2019 Schweitzer Fellow Evan Fry who is currently a student at University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Dentistry.

I received a lot of inquisitive looks when I told my dental school professors and friends that I would be missing afternoon clinics because I was traveling to Tulsa. “Why Tulsa, of all places?” was the typical question I would get in response. While I did attend college at the University of Oklahoma, Norman is on the other side of the state from Tulsa—in fact, I hadn’t spent any time in Tulsa besides driving through it to or from college. I’m very glad I had the opportunity to venture to Tulsa for the Schweitzer Leadership Summit, however, as I learned tremendously from those in the Schweitzer Fellows for Life (FFL) network and the Tulsa public health community.

Having attended a dental education conference the week prior, I was thrilled to find out that the Leadership Summit abandoned the traditional lecture-style presentations and stuffy poster sessions in favor of discussion-oriented breakouts and interactive learning experiences. I attended a Kouksundo (Korean Tai Chi) session led by an FFL who is an experienced practitioner, and learned a brief yoga and stretching routine designed for healthcare providers to practice during their workday. I went to a breakout session with the Summit’s keynote presenter, where a small group of attendees had the chance to dive deeper with her. Intermixed among these sessions were ample time for networking and structured small-group reflection.

Additionally, the Schweitzer Leadership Summit in no way resembled other conferences that tend to be located in windowless meeting rooms of generic hotels. Whether it was meeting with the mayor of Tulsa at City Hall, visiting several innovative local nonprofits, or spending the morning at Tulsa’s largest public green space, the Summit was deeply rooted in its host city. This community-focused perspective was especially helpful given that a city’s healthcare needs are very dependent on the economic, political, and cultural identities of its citizens. While Tulsa differs markedly from Chicago, the ways in which public health issues were identified and addressed provides a framework that can be applied to my own city. It also fostered best practices sharing amongst the Summit attendees, who left Tulsa feeling energized to return to their home cities with renewed vigor.

I hope to continue the momentum from the Summit by sharing my experiences with the other Fellows in the Chicago chapter. I return to my own Fellowship activities with a renewed sense of purpose, and look forward to Schweitzer Leadership Summits yet to come, wherever they may be.