Promoting the Profession through Writing and Research
By Melissa A. Heinlein, MA, MS, CAVS
Chief, Voluntary Service
Philadelphia VA Medical Center
Phone: (215) 823-5800, ext. 6830
Fax: (215) 823-4452
E-mail: [email protected]
We continuously hear how directors of volunteers need to “promote the profession.” We do this
in many ways by serving on hospital committees, doing outreach to other organizations, and
participating in endless trainings. But there are other ways to promote the profession through
writing articles and conducting research.
You are the subject-matter experts in the field of volunteer administration and yet sociologists,
psychologists, nurses, anyone but directors of volunteers are conducting studies and writing
articles about the latest trends and forecasts in the field.
How many times do you hear yourself saying “I wish I had time to write a book about….” or “I
always wanted to do a study about…” As a collaborative and supporting organization, we are
able to pull our resources together and promote not only you, but our profession, and
As Chief, Voluntary Service at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center and part-time PhD student at
Marywood University in Scranton, PA, I am studying Human Development with an emphasis in
health promotion and instructional leadership. My biggest challenge professionally and
educationally is educating not only my colleagues and paid staff, but professors and fellow
students about the field and world of volunteer administration. I educate others about the many
hats we wear, the challenges we face, the trends of volunteers, and how we ARE professionals.
We have the opportunity to share what we know. It is intimidating to stand in front of a crowd
and share best practices, or write an article for publication. But there are things we can do as
individuals, as pairs, and as a group to help promote the expert you are:
Calling all authors – Take a chance and write an article for Start a
newsletter if you don’t already have one. Not sure what to write about? What bothers
you the most? What do you ponder about in the field? What do you want to share with
others? Team up with someone who shares your thoughts and co-author an article
Calling all presenters – Start small. Is the local girl scouts looking for presenters on paid
staff relationships? Sign up! Present at your local chapter for PSDVS to get your feet
wet. What better audience to present to than those who know you. Afraid to present
alone? Find someone who shares your energy and co-present.
Calling all researchers – Remember AVA’s Journal for Volunteer Administration? Did
you ever wonder who is doing the research? Usually a professor of marketing, sociology,
business, etc. Okay, so the statistics piece is scary, but you don’t have to do them. It’s
the subject-matter that you are known for. Let someone else handle the numbers. If you
have any idea for a research study, most universities are eager to hear what ideas you
have and can help you with generating your research proposal (and get the math majors
to do the stats).
“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought”
(Albert Szent-Gyorgyi – Hungarian Biochemist, Nobel Prize for Medicine – 1893-1986). Your
expertise is invaluable and worthwhile to share. The field, as we know it, is ever growing, and
changing as the world changes. This is our time to shine!
If you have questions about starting a journal club in your chapter, writing articles, presentations,
etc. please contact Melissa Heinlein, MA, MS, CAVS, Chief, Voluntary Service, Philadelphia
VA Medical Center at (215) 823-5800, etc. 6830 or [email protected]

Promoting the Profession through Writing and Research By Melissa