Audience Centered Communication
Connecting Organizational DNA:
The Warren Alpert Medical School
Since granting its first Doctor of Medicine degrees in 1975, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University has become a national leader in medical education and biomedical research. By attracting first-class physicians and researchers to Rhode Island over the past three decades, the Medical School and its seven affiliated teaching hospitals have radically improved the state’s health care environment from health care policy to patient care. Simply put, its mission is the pursuit of health to benefit society.
As one of the premier medical schools in the United States, Alpert Medical School knew what set it apart from other Ivy League institutions: the belief that superlative physicians are also fully realized human beings. Guided by this conviction, the school redefined what it meant to be a medical student—from placing them in clinical environments in their very first year to providing them with myriad opportunities to guide their own academic experience. Given this unique approach, the school understood that out of the top 1% of applicants, only a truly entrepreneurial student would thrive there. It therefore sought to elevate its communication to a personal, and not just academic, level to attract the “right” kind of candidate. It needed to communicate its spirit and philosophy as part of the application process so that candidates could better self-select as the kind of independent-minded student who would thrive in that environment.
- Conceive a viewbook from the point of view and voice of a student to sound authentic and attract the right applicants.
- Detail the experiences and milestones in the life of a medical student through all four years of medical school.
- Design a viewbook for a student audience. Create a multi-level content hierarchy and stories that could be easily scanned for relevant information, with links to the school’s website for details.
- Provide a literal and figurative map to demonstrate both where Alpert Medical School is located and where it is in terms of status, connection and impact within the larger medical community.
- Provide all relevant links on the website as “express lanes” for additional information.
Four years of life and learning
Attracting the right students to Alpert Medical School meant creating a viewbook that spoke directly to potential students and described the real experiences they could expect to face. The viewbook was structured so that two spreads were dedicated to each year of study. An emphasis on imagery helped to depict the current students’ experiences.
Real students, real stories
What better way to offer a clear sense of the environment at Alpert Medical School than through the experience of those who learn there? An overview of each of the four years was written from the perspective of real students. Quotes from these students were included in each story and provided a personal, authentic portrayal of life and learning at the school.
Hierarchy of information
In order to attract the right candidates, we created formats for main stories and milestones, leveraging headlines and browser-level copy to encourage initial skimming of each spread. We used stories and images of real students, highlighting their experiences across the four-year timeline. Getting “real” allowed us to speak directly to potential candidates and help them identify, and connect, with the school and its philosophy. Candidates who felt this connection could easily recognize that this was the school for them. Links to the school’s website led directly to essential, detailed information about the curriculum and other aspects of the experience. A timeline running along the bottom of each spread provided additional snippets about major events and milestones throughout the four years.
On the map and in the express lane
Part of the prestige and appeal of Alpert Medical School lies its affiliation with seven teaching hospitals within a radius of less than six miles: this means big opportunity in such a small state. The viewbook includes a map showing that the school is strategically placed within proximity of each of its teaching hospitals and of a number of research facilities. “Express lanes” to these resources, as well as many others, are provided on the school’s website. This design not only makes accessing relevant information easy and fast, but it also shows that the school lies at the heart of this critical network of resources.
“Creating a viewbook is very tricky—you have to show your school’s best attributes while being authentic. We turned to Orange Square for help translating our mission into a message, one that would help us find the students who would thrive at Alpert Medical School. We have seen our applications increase every year since we began working with Orange Square. And this year, Alpert Medical School was ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the fifth most-selective medical school in the country, with an admission rate of 3.4 percent.”