LAN Step-By-Step Guide

Step-by-Step Guide to organizing your NPA Local Action Network

There are many approaches you can take in organizing your LAN.  Urban doctors in New York City have had fabulous success with an activist model.  In Philadelphia, a more academic approach has been quite successful.  Ideas to consider as you begin:

1. Find a few like-minded doctors and schedule your first meeting. You don’t need a lot of people to get started — 3 or 4 will do.  The key is to hold that first meeting and start brain-storming together.  If you can each invite a friend or two, all the better, but remember you can always add to the group later.  Meet in someone’s living room or at a local restaurant after work, whatever time works best for you.  If meeting in person is out (for example, if you’re all working long hours, have little kids at home, or live across the state from each other) schedule a conference call.  In person is better if you can do it, but getting started however you can is the goal.

2. Plan to leave that first meeting with a focus for your new Group and a mission statement. As a NPA Local Action Network, you can either adopt the mission statement of the national organization or draft your own statement as long as it is consonant with the values of the NPA.  The NPA’s mission statement reads:

The National Physicians Alliance is founded to restore physicians’ primary emphasis on the core values of our profession: service, integrity, and advocacy. The NPA offers a professional home for physicians seeking creative collaboration and mutual support. As a diverse physician community, we work to improve health and well being, and to ensure equitable, affordable, high quality health care for all people.

If you do decide to write your own mission statement, you’ll want to have time for brainstorming and discussion, but try to get the group to focus on an issue or set of issues that you all find compelling by the time you leave that first meeting (ideally keeping to whatever time frame you set — usually 1 1/2 to 2 hours max).  The issues that you choose can be local or national, but if you do decide to work on national issues it is important that you do so in accordance with the mission statement of the national organization.  This is the visioning step of organizing your group.  It will be a process that is exciting and challenging and one that you’ll need to repeat periodically as your organization evolves. The following offer a guide to developing your mission statement:

  • Foundation Center Website
  • Grantsmanship Center PDF
  • Grantsmanship Center Podcast

3. Create a title for your Local Action Network based on your geography. Examples have included Chicago NPA Action Group, SF Bay NPA Action Group or NPA NY Local Action Network.

4.  Set achievable goals for your Local Action Network. What do you want to get done and what steps are you going to take to do it?

5.  Develop a leadership structure for your Local Action Network. This includes outlining positions and identifying who will be taking what responsibilities.  There is no one way to run your Local Action Network.  The one required role is a liason to the national organization, but consider assigning your organizing members to offices.  This helps motivate people by making their responsibilities clear and also helps when you interact with other organizations and with the media.  Suggested titles to get you started (but feel free to create your own):

  • President
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Membership Director
  • Policy Advisor
  • Communications Director

6. Start keeping records early. This will make it easier to build your group (and eventually get money to support your activities).

  • Set up a spreadsheet or electronic address book of contacts (members and partners).
  • Keep a log of meeting dates, number of attendees and purpose.
  • Keep minutes of planning meetings so you can refer back to them.

Next steps:  Getting things moving

Depending on your goals as a group, you will want to schedule some activities to achieve two goals: 1) working on the issues you have identified as your group’s focus and 2) helping build your community of member physicians.  Choose your activities and schedule of meetings to meet the needs of your members and what you think will best achieve your goals.  It’s OK to be flexible on this — you may not be ready for monthly meetings or a regular schedule in the beginning, so base your decisions on what your group wants.  Some possibilities to get you started on your brainstorming:

  • Monthly meetings at a group member’s house
  • Periodic dinners at local restaurants with an invited speaker and discussion after the talk
  • Service opportunities
  • Social gatherings (with or without a speaker)
  • Community events: offer to provide a physician’s perspective on local issues
  • Advocacy events such as rallies or public meetings
  • Advocacy activities such as gathering petition signatures or postcards through canvassing
  • Visits to lobby your local legislators
  • Get-togethers to write letters to the editor or letters to your legislators (resources available on NPA web site)
  • Media training for physicians (support available from the national organization)

As you organize and run these events, keep recruitment goals for your group in mind.  Recruitment should blend in with organizing physicians around the issues that your Local Action Network is passionate about.  Keep in touch with the national organization and LAN leaders from other parts of the country as you move along so that you can take full advantage of the experience of other doctors and the other resources available to you as an NPA Local Action Network.

Enjoy the Process, Set Lofty Goals and Think Big