Editor’s Note: This post is an essay from one of the entrants in the patient/caregiver scholarship contest for our Health Care Social Media Summit in October. See this post for more details on the contest:
This is Jill Plevinsky’s essay:
I was a senior in high school when I first created my Facebook page. I remember waiting impatiently until my undergraduate institution sent me my .edu e-mail address so I could be a part of The George Washington University’s network allowing me to scroll through profiles of my future co-eds.
Ten years prior at age seven, I was diagnosed with a severe case of Crohn’s disease. I was lucky to have parents who thrust me into the world of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America by organizing bowl-a-thons and walking for the cause. As I progressed through early adolescence, my illness became more active as did I. I served as my chapter’s first youth ambassador at age twelve, which involved media outreach about IBD and essentially serving as a figure for young patients like myself to let them know that they’re not alone. I attended Camp Oasis and support groups, and also spoke at regional events about leading a normal life in spite of my illness.
When it came time to choose a course of study eight years later, I found I was still passionate about helping adolescents with IBD cope and find social support, and thus began studying psychology and health sciences both leading to a graduate degree in child development at Tufts University to be completed this May. My own avid use of social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter sparked my interest in an avenue that’s rarely explored in pediatric psychology: how the Internet and social networking have affected adolescent self-care and health literacy. I plan on refuting the skeptics who still today question the quality of online relationships and information sharing between minors with respect to a chronic illness.
In exploring this interest, I’ve been lucky enough to team up with the C3N Project (www.c3nproject.org) and ImproveCareNow (www.improvecarenow.org) to further explore how the connections that develop between patients should also exist between patients, families, researchers, and physicians. The coming together of these four parties on a social networking platform will not only positively affect health outcomes, but it will spur innovation in IBD and hopefully create a model that can be used across all chronic illnesses to improve patient quality of life and clinical success. My most recent charge as a part of this collaborative is to lead a Patient Advisory Council made up of adolescent patients across the nation.
Attending the Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Summit would allow me to meet others interested in reaching out to patient populations via social networking platforms and share ideas on how to focus on specific patient populations. This in turn would not only benefit the initiatives my research, but also has the potential to extend beyond the project’s Patient Advisory Council to touch a larger patient population. While a rather experienced patient, I am a young researcher on the cusp of one of the most powerful trends in healthcare technology and at age twenty-three, I’m still utilizing my online network of “Crohnies” for information on side effects of new treatments. I appreciate this exciting opportunity to provide insight and reap the benefits of being fully immersed in #HCSM.
Thanks so much for your consideration. Please follow me @jillplev on Twitter.
Jill M. Plevinsky