Today, Smith devotes most of her volunteer activities to education and advocacy, giving health presentations, speeches, even appearing regularly on a Friday morning radio show to talk about health issues. She sees her clinical work as helping one person at a time while her volunteer work helps scores.
Smith suggests physicians find a health issue that they are passionate about, create a speech or presentation and then reach out to local chambers of commerce, civic groups and local libraries. “Ask them, ‘Do you need a speaker on healthcare topics that affect our community?’ I can almost assure you they will give you a yes response,” she says.
Smith, LeRoy and Albani all have children, and they have all seen their volunteer activities make a strong impression on them. LeRoy’s oldest is a medical social worker. Three of Albani’s children have entered medical fields. And Smith’s daughter is getting a Master’s degree in public health.
“Sometimes we think that our children are not paying attention, especially when they’re teenagers and they’re shrugging their shoulders and rolling their eyes,” says LeRoy. “But that stuff we talked about and that she saw, it sank in.”
Perhaps volunteering’s greatest benefit for physicians is both self-serving and world-serving: Volunteering makes the community a better place. And because of their training and education, physicians have an obligation to volunteer, to give back to their communities, LeRoy says.
“You help others in an unselfish way, not for money or fame or recognition, but just because you are living and breathing on this Earth,” he says. “You have a privilege of being able to help others, so that’s what you have to do.”