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Assessment of Self-Evaluation Training for the Medical Reserve

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Future Evaluation and Training Needs

Our research suggests that the one component of strategic planning where unit coordinators struggle the most is implementation. Conceptually, they understand the importance of developing a strategic plan, but they don't know how best to implement the plan, especially given tight budget and time constraints. They are interested in more concrete guidance or examples of promising practices that have proven successful for other units that are similar to theirs. One potential strategy moving forward would be to select a small, yet diverse group of MRC units and work very closely with them to develop detailed strategic planning templates. These templates could be posted on the MRC national Web site for other units to reference as they work through the strategic planning process.

Also, many MRC units reside in housing organizations that may have resident expertise in developing and implementing strategic plans. Unit coordinators should be encouraged to seek out and tap into this local expertise to help them work through the process for their MRC. Often, receiving guidance and support from someone "who has been there" can be extremely influential. At the same time, this collaboration provides an opportunity for the housing organization to better understand the goals and capabilities of the MRC unit.

Many MRC coordinators mentioned using the core competencies for the MRC program as the foundation for setting their unit's goals and guiding their efforts. They indicated that they would like to have more standardized guidance from the national level on how these core competencies relate to strategic planning, logic models, and program evaluation. Although the competency matrix offers various types of training for each competency, many coordinators sought one national standard on which they could base their training goals, with additional training based on local needs.

MRC coordinators expressed a desire for creative approaches to both volunteer engagement and performance measurement. One coordinator noted that the biggest challenge she faces is coming up with creative ways to get volunteers involved in the unit's activities, including participation in performance assessment activities. She noted this involves learning your audience first and figuring out what will build their enthusiasm to participate. She stated that it would be helpful to get guidance on how coordinators can "understand their audience" so that both training and evaluation activities can be designed to elicit higher levels of volunteer participation.

In response to these stated needs, below we suggest a set of support enhancements that may be useful to MRC units facing constraints in available time for evaluation, a lack of expertise in conducting evaluation activities, and needing continuing guidance. Each enhancement varies in the amount of staff time and technology support costs required in order to offer it to the MRC units.

Enhancements requiring a high level of effort to establish and a moderate level of effort to maintain:

  • Online "logic model" builder.
  • FAQ section on MRC Web site.
  • Word®- or Excel®-based evaluation templates available via the MRC Web site.

Enhancements requiring a continuous moderate-to-high level of effort:

  • "Ask an Expert" advice via E-mail.
  • Expert review of in-process MRC self-evaluations
  • Peer consultation network.
  • Direct onsite technical assistance.

Enhancement requiring a continuous low level of effort:

  • Dissemination of successful MRC self-evaluations.

Grassroots organizations often need continuous support to foster evaluation, and evaluation is vital for MRC units to demonstrate their value to the community and the nation. MRC leadership may wish to consider allocating funds to an independent organization to provide one or more of the support enhancements listed above.

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