Budget time is just around the corner. As you begin your planning process, follow this simple and effective checklist to be sure that your health center’s budget does not come up short:
Make your health center part of the solution to a student affairs problem. When planning your budget, consider how your requests will also help the student affairs department to meet its objectives, and then be sure to articulate that. For instance, when requesting additional staff, think about making a case for how having more qualified professionals on hand in your health center will better enable you to keep students healthy and enrolled at your university.
Think like an MBA. Not all of us in health care have a business background, but the people who we report to probably do. Learn what makes these analytical types tick. Use and understand their language when making budget requests. Terms to know and use include “return on investment” (ROI), “profit margin”, “quality assurance”, and “operating costs”.
Engage in “Show and Tell.” Even though we are health care practitioners, health and counseling center staff also need to think of ourselves as marketing professionals. Hopefully, over the past year you have done a little public relations work for your department. Newsletter articles highlighting your health center, health promotion literature or survey results all serve as reminders of the value that you offer to your campus. Prepare a packet that showcases your efforts. Make sure that you measure results from each initiative and include those in the packet.
Chart your success. Remember, you are not just asking for a budget. You are justifying that you deserve it. Recall all of the things that you have done over the past year to provide for a healthier student population. Then, be prepared to tell your story. Produce charts and graphs that illustrate how you’ve moved the needle in various areas, including decrease in incidence of disease, percentage increase in number of students who show proof of immunization, increase over last year in numbers of student visits to your health center, etc.