Indiana University Emergency Medicine Scholars in Advocacy Track

What if preventable conditions in children were never seen again in the emergency department?

Photo of Jennifer Walthall
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

As a young faculty in emergency medicine, I was certain that there was a way to teach our EM trainees see patient care in a different light with a goal of prevention. The ED is a nexus where the gaps in philosophy, policy and patient care are laid bare. I sent an email that said, "If you had all the resources and time in the world, what one thing would you do for your patients?" The response was simply, "By the time they get to us, it seems like it's too late. Can we just do SOMETHING?"

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)


Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Indiana

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]


Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Indiana

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]


Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Two groups benefit from the IUEM Advocacy Project: 1) the EM residents who learn how to transform themes from children they see in the ED to action items in the community, hospital systems, and health policy and 2) the groups of children and families impacted by their programming. The project allows the force multiplier effect of building a cohort of leaders that can spread their influence and knowledge beyond our doors.

The climate of excitement and our experience in advocacy in medical education allows 1) integration of health promotion, patient safety, and health policy basic education in the resident curriculum, and 2) a complementary improvement in the health and wellbeing of our partner communities. This collaboration then functions as a foundation for preparation of the next generation of healthcare leaders. The longitudinal training builds a specialty knowledge skill set from generalist to specialist to scholar.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Children who are differently abled
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education
  • Mental Health

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages, and the next step will be growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

A group of residents used a PhotoVoices program template to teach middle school students in a special needs classroom to enhance their health communication skills. They wrote an AAP Catch grant to fund camera purchase and hire a professional photographer to guide the group. Interviews with the students, parents after an interval of follow up demonstrated improved ability to communicate using photography. The cameras were donated to the students for use in school, home, and the doctor's office. One student with cerebral palsy with small muscle weakness was thrilled that he could hold the small digital camera. He looked at me and said, "Does this mean I'm a photographer." There are countless powerful stories of transformation like this.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In 2015-16 there were several longitudinal and self-contained resident driven programs with faculty mentoring: 1) IUEM Bike Safety Fair (10th year). Over 1200 helmets fitted and decorated. 2) Kid Triathlon training (5th year). Training for at risk youth in nutrition and physical activity. 3) IU-SOC (4th year). Four months of staffing the medical student free clinic by EM residents and faculty. 4) Wheeler Mission (1st year). Supplies given for infants in homeless shelter. 5) Rachael's First Week (3rd year). 15 high schools/colleges given safety lectures. 6) Rural ATV safety education (2nd year) 7) Rural adolescent mental health screening in the ED (1st year) 8) IUEM Legislative Reception and health policy elective (6th year) In addition, there have been substantial presentations, publications, and media promotion of these programs, enhancing the impact and reach of this work.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $10k - $50k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Since 2006, we have obtained multiple grants for self-contained programs. In 2013, we successfully obtained long term funding for the Track from the Indiana Brain and Spinal Cord Research Fund for our track record of success in injury prevention, behavior change, and community engagement. This $120,000 grant is administered through the IUSM Department of Emergency Medicine.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

The IUEM Scholars in Advocacy Track is the only training curriculum of its kind in emergency medicine. Our project is unique in that both the resident and larger community benefit from development of programming skills in community based participatory research, systems improvement, and policy literacy. Graduates from our program are represented in children's health service research, global health, policy work in opiates, public service, and community outreach. We are not limited to one topic and have the resources to nimbly respond to children's emerging trends seen in the ED.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

It has become clear that public health, healthcare, and communities cannot continue to operate independently of each other. The holistic approach to the wellbeing of children is now becoming a reality in multiple settings and integrated care is being supported. The ED has functioned as a safety net since its inception and the Scholars in Advocacy Track is a mechanism to elevate that safety net from "one patient at a time" to every point of contact being one step closer to wellness.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email
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Attachments (4)

Kyra Reed blog.pdf

Example of Track participant blog post

Advocacy Scholarly Track Requirements.pdf

Requirements for track participants

AACEM Advocacy.Runge.pdf

Presentation to the American Academy of Chairs in Emergency Medicine to describe and understand advocacy in EM training.

Scholars In Advocacy Track Speech 2016.docx

Commencement speech from the IUSM EM graduation


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jessie Mandle

This is great! How are you working with other advocacy groups or community groups? So exciting to see this being embedded into the curriculum! I hope this is a model other schools adopt.

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