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joycegroenke

Social Media Summit Scholarship Essay – Reka Anna Lassu

Posted by @joycegroenke in Just Want to Talk, Aug 15, 2011

Editor's Note: This is an entry in our Scholarship Contest for Patients and Caregivers to attend the Mayo Clinic Social Media Summit Oct. 17-21 in Rochester, Minn. See this post:

http://socialmedia.mayoclinic.org/2011/07/26/patient-caregiver-scholarship-contest-for-social-media-summit/

for more details on the contest, and please cast your votes by liking or commenting on the candidates you think would be best.

Here is Reka Anna Lassu’s Essay:

Hello! I had the privilege of meeting e-Patient Dave this year in Lucerne, Switzerland where he inspired me to write my Master Thesis on Patient Empowerment and how Social Media plays a role in it. Currently, I am doing original research on how the Italian-speaking population of Switzerland uses Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for health.

However, my personal story as a patient & caregiver is from when I spent a semester abroad in Budapest, Hungary during my Bachelor studies, in a time when “Tweets” and “Likes” were not yet so popular. This wasn’t the typical experience, since I lived with my grandmother whose mind and body, but not youthful spirit, were under the grasp of Depression, Alzheimer’s, and several other medical conditions.

I am from California, but I was born in Hungary and lived in the countryside for my first few years. As a little girl, my favorite day was Wonderful Wednesday when my grandma would come and spend the whole day with me. Later, when my family moved to the US, Wednesdays became just like every other day.

Nevertheless, as my grandparents still lived in Hungary, and were getting older, I came there for my semester abroad to rediscover the wonderfulness of Wednesdays again with my “Nagyi”. Unfortunately, along with wonderful Wednesdays came not-so-wonderful Mondays, Tuesdays and all other days when Nagyi mixed up her medication. Back then, I didn’t understand her conditions or the severity of them. She was the nicest person I knew, but sometimes this would instantly change when I wanted to leave the house for class, and she’d tell me that I don’t care about her and that I should “just go back to the US”. I didn’t understand what was going on and spent many long nights crying, but nothing seemed to alleviate the pain I felt.

It was during these 6 months, that I realized that our roles had changed. I became a caregiver to her, but at the same time a “patient in need of patience” and social support. Due to the 9-hour time difference with the US, I couldn’t just call my friends and it would have been nice to have an online social support group or some encouraging posts to read on Facebook! However, I am grateful for even these difficult times because they were accompanied by many good and irreplaceable days as well.

It was 2 years later that I realized how thankful I was for having had the chance to spend time with my grandparents. Furthermore, I discovered how important new technologies are. I was able to say “see you later” to my Grandpa via Skype right before he passed away. Although it’s a terrible example, it felt like the Mastercard advertisement: Skype credit $20.00, opportunity to kiss your Grandpa goodbye...Priceless!

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to make a difference in the world through health and the experience with my Grandparents just solidified that. In pursuit of my dream, I am finishing a Master in Communication, Management, and Health in Lugano, Switzerland, as one of the 9 first graduates of such a Master in all of Switzerland

I am passionate about health communication and co-founded Health Communication Lugano (www.healthcomlugano.ch), a student group spreading the word about health communication as well as connecting with professionals and students. Also, I had an opportunity to design, implement, and evaluate an original evidence-based social marketing campaign for improving oral hygiene and encouraging behavior change.

At the conference, I would love to learn about others’ stories as well as contribute my international experience, original research, bubbly personality and positive attitude.

I really believe that the future of healthcare lies in education, the empowerment of patients, and in a people-centered health system. I owe my opportunity to study to my amazing family and the state of California who gave me a loan, which I must repay. As I am still a student, I could not otherwise afford to attend, and this scholarship would be my Wonderful Wednesday, or in this case, Wonderful Days of October 19th-21st; I would be honored to be able to participate in this event.

Tags: Scholarship contest

MKhan, kkapchuk, mlgiles and 70 others like this
billangplus3

Posted by @billangplus3, Aug 16, 2011

I believe Reka has it right, social networking will be a valuable tool for everyone. Old or young. For information to be shared or support needed.

bkassym and marcg23 like this
ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

hello! thank you! social media is great for exactly what you said: information but support as well! having a support network is so important and a vital part of health! what do you think can be improved with social networking as it is today?

bkassym likes this
lucelia8

Posted by @lucelia8, Aug 16, 2011

I believe in the power of social media in many fields and this essay convinced me that it can also help patients and people having to deal with a specific medical situation.

bkassym likes this
ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

Hi! great! i definitely think it has great potential. for example, have the discussions through mayo clinic or patientslikeme can really help people to get connected to a community and i think it's so important for health! what other areas do you think social media is powerful in?

bkassym likes this
clampetskc

Posted by @clampetskc, Aug 16, 2011

Empowerment of patients in this day and age is vitally important. Communication Technology in Health has never been better and the ability of patients to take control over their own health care management is key for the continued progress of the health field. I look forward to seeing what this author can do in the future for health management and therefore all our futures.

bkassym likes this
ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

thanks!! yes!!! patient empowerment is key and there are so many new technologies that will make health more manageable for patients! what's your opinion about new technologies in health? any experiences so far?

bkassym likes this
olgap

Posted by @olgap, Aug 16, 2011

I like this essay. You can ask me why? First of all, because, you can find in this essay a personal experience with health issues. Secondly, I found that the author of the essay has a real desire to improve people health through effective communication. Moreover, I like that she touched the people empowerment approach for the healthcare system. And especially, that it is related to the new technology such as social media, for that, I believe, the future is

bkassym likes this
ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

yes!!!! social media in health i believe will be the future!!!! i mean, even now people are using it, but we have to spread the word and to make it available not only for the discussion of diseases and conditions, but prevention and health promotion as well!!! what do you think about health communication, is it important???

Olga_P and bkassym like this
olgap

Posted by @olgap, Aug 16, 2011

I agree, as well, about prevention. In my opinion health communication is very important, since due the communication misleadings ocur 80 % of medical errors , plus, even doctors and healthgivers need specialists in communication in order to illuminate those problems. Another thing is that not too many doctors and practioners and health organizations know how to promote and organize health campaigns.

bkassym likes this
ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 17, 2011

yes i hear this quote as well!!!! isn't that crazy? improved communication could help so much in reducing that percentage! organizing health campaigns is tough! i only really have one experience and it's the same one mentioned in the essay about improving oral hygiene but it was so great to actually implement the idea bc it showed me how difficult it is and there are so many potential issues that can arise we really have to be flexible.....ohh and to evaluate the campaign as well at the end!!! thank you for sharing your thoughts!!!

seke

Posted by @seke, Aug 16, 2011

This story gave me goosebumps. Without a doubt, this persons seems to be skillful and passionated about health care. To be honest, everyone is aware that health care is somewhat important but most of wait until bad things happen before they start doing something. That is why this sector needs people like the author of the post above to be passionated about it and powerful to connect with others. Great story so far, great future to come.

bkassym likes this
ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

🙂 thank you! so true!! it's important also to maintain health and not just treat problems! i'm excited about the future!!!

bkassym likes this
seke

Posted by @seke, Aug 17, 2011

so true. lately i came across a mental trainer workshop and she said 'don't think in problems but in solutions', i quiet like that approach. maybe you can bring in this attitude into the conference. good luck and greetings from switzerland.

ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 17, 2011

thanks for sharing, that is great! it's all about focus right, what we choose to focus on, the problem or the solution? thank you!!!

vitoria

Posted by @vitoria, Aug 16, 2011

Good luck ! that's really interesting view on the health!

bkassym likes this
ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

thanks! have a great day 🙂 life is wonderful!

bkassym likes this
samank

Posted by @samank, Aug 16, 2011

as far as I know, you are very motivated for doing your project! I can also understand how much you need this scholarship because I'm almost in the same situation. I hope you get this scholarship. But I'm sure you will be successful in reaching your goals with or without this scholarship. good luck

bkassym likes this
ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

thanks!!!! yeah the student life is great, but i'm looking forward to a career in health communication and being paid for what i love 🙂

bkassym likes this
samank

Posted by @samank, Aug 17, 2011

Reka currently I'm working on a project which is in this direction and can be used also in healthcare. There is very slow progress for such kind of projects because there is not enough investments in this section. The main problem is that It is an interdisciplinary area which investors in health science and computer science do not accept it as a directly related field to themselves. I hope there will be more attention in health communication science to this area in the future. Currently I'm looking for investors in communication science and I need to work with somebody who is expert in communication part specially marketing. We might be able to collaborate with each other on this project if you are interested. We can talk about it later in more detail and see if there is such possibilities..

boldilassu

Posted by @boldilassu, Aug 16, 2011

I am fascinated by this essay. The author’s diverse upbringing and background combines with her recent caregiver role in a uniquely powerful way. In an era of intense focus on healthcare worldwide, communication, as the thread that ties together patients, families, friends, caregivers, and professionals, plays as important a role in our medical well-being as modern medicine itself. Even the best health care is nothing without the support system that social interactions provide. Reka’s essay demonstrates experiences that span across age groups, health situations, continents and cultures – making her, without a doubt, a future leader and driver in healthcare communication and education.

bkassym likes this
ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

bolid!!!! hello! you're so right, communication is key! especially interpersonal communication! and healthy people need social support as well!!! also, i think that regardless of culture, social support systems are important for health improvement!!!

bkassym likes this
naimalara

Posted by @naimalara, Aug 16, 2011

I'm very impressed by this essay. I really like the personal input, the combination of science and everyday life. This hard work should be honored and I can tell that a student like this is exceptional; hard working, enthusiastic but never forgets her roots and aims to help the disadvantaged! Great, keep on doing so!

bkassym likes this
ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

thank you! i hope i can move from a student into a professional soon who can really make a difference in health communication by applying science and evidence-based techniques and making them useful in real life!!!

bkassym likes this
laurianne

Posted by @laurianne, Aug 16, 2011

Great essay!!! Il liked especially how you linked your personnal experience and social media. Wish you good luck for the contest!

bkassym likes this
ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

thanks! have you had any personal experiences with social media and health?

bkassym

Posted by @bkassym, Aug 16, 2011

thank you so much for this essay its really good and I think that you should keep up the good work, since we all now dependable on social communication and the way news and other stuff is shared. I really think that this filed needs to be explored.

never met such a passionate person before and she has sad but useful life experience.

good luck with scholarship 😉

ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

we are pretty dependent on social communication! whenever i leave the house w/o my phone and realize it later, i feel so strange. have you ever been on vacation w/o internet?? however, i think that sometimes we need to get off line to appreciate the social connections we have that aren't through the internet. it's great to connect to others who we wouldn't otherwise be able to speak with, but at the same time we shouldn't forget to communicate face-to-face with those who are near us!

sasweb

Posted by @sasweb, Aug 16, 2011

The intertwining of the personal experiences and academic routes that the writer took leading from those experiences makes this piece an interesting read. I think attending this event will help you explore the pros and cons of the internet media for healthcare. In today's world of e-health, the concept of expertise is constantly being re-located and shifting from the official top-down appointed expert authority in the field to the unofficially bottom up community-recognized authority because of the experiential knowledge accumulated. That is why I believe that even if in the healthcare space, much has been made about social media, the real issue is going to be the substance of the content. There are many types of health care content providers and I think they come in many flavors, from freelance writers to large medical and pharma corporations. The digital audience is hungry for information and providing them with the right information, at the right time and through the right channel is going to be key. As for the writer, attending this event will be a huge opportunity to network and collaborate in a harmonious way which would be mutually beneficial for all parties involved in trying to create and manage a platform which can deliver a highly efficient and effective people-centered healthcare system, which also gives prioritized importance to information transfer and patient empowerment. And never has been the role of Social Media more important than today for this! Good Luck!

Olga_P likes this
ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

hi sas! definitely this shift away from top-down communication is happening fast! businesses are no longer the gate-keepers of information and this is a major change!!!! I AGREE!!! this conference would be a GREAT SUPER WONDERFUL chance for me to lear from others about their experiences. i have spend the last 6 years in graduate school and i am very thankful for having had the opportunity to study first Psychology for the BA and now Health Communication for the MA. however, i would like to step out of the student role and apply the skills i learned!!!! this would be the perfect opportunity to do so...thanks for your encouragement!

sasweb

Posted by @sasweb, Aug 16, 2011

Being educated in the field of health communication, you might have already figured out that the study of the same is simultaneously social scientific, humanistic, and professional in its orientation. The approach that you want to follow will lead you to what kind of career you want to pursue! Now that you have laid down the groundwork for a career in this field, opportunity provided, please maintain your keen interest in learning new things in the field. Because health communication research plays an important role in demonstrating how the processes and application of lessons learned from research can help in efforts to prevent diseases, promote health, and moreover shape public health policies and practices. This is where the shift away from top-down communication that we were talking about, plays an increasing role. And we need sharp and vigilant minds like yours to better understand these phenomenons. And tools like social media will certainly help in the research and application of health communication in interpersonal, cultural, group, organizational, mass mediated, and technological contexts. And I sincerely hope that you can make the most out of these resources to help you nurture new skills and enhance existing ones!

ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

yes health communication is a very interdisciplinary field (psychology, statistics, management, sociology, etc). sometimes its been hard for me to explain what i'm interested in bc even those who work in the health industry might not be familiar with "health communication." i know that sounds strange, but from my experience, people seemed to think that i am doing a master to work in the pharma field or in a hospital. that's not entirely true! health communicators can work on public campaigns for example to help influence behavior. have you seen the swill campaign Love Life for example? or Truth in the US?

sasweb

Posted by @sasweb, Aug 16, 2011

Absolutely, your point is right on the money. The complex structure of Communications as a field, makes it difficult to really "communicate" what it stands for and what are the uses of the field, in whichever way you typify the field. And thats where the relevance of graduates like you come into place.
And as per your question on the campaigns you asked about, I have heard and read a bit about Love Life but unfortunately nothing much on Truth campaign. Coming from a country like India where Polio Immunization, Family Planning, Malaria to name a few has been big problems, public campaigns and communication policies have always been a problem. Communication efforts, devoid of a sound program for improvement of health status are bound to have only limited impact. Flawed communication policies often result in flawed healthcare programs. Factors contributing to the ill-health of the large majority of people in a developing society do not engage the serious attention of health planners nationally and internationally. Most of the time, international priorities trigger national debates when fundamental issues get little attention. Another issue is the effect of public health campaigns in stigmatizing people, by sometimes reinforcing the public perception about certain health issues. For eg, Campaigns on Obesity and the more general perception that all fat people are obese, which is not necessarily true. Hence along with patient empowerment, raising awareness and proper education on health issues is also a must in bringing people to the forefront and helping them embrace such campaigns and move in the desired direction. Here is where new age social media tools can play a big role at minimal costs and maximum exposure.

ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

You are so right...communication must be careful and not stigmatize people! education is so important especially if started from a young age! in india is there health education in school? i mean a strong one? in the US i remember having had a health class in middle school and then one in high school but that is it!!! 2 classes in like 6 years, isn't that crazy!! health should be an ongoing class? is it not as important as english or math? and i don't mean just physical education AKA gym class, but HEALTH education as well! also your point about the cost and exposure is great!! thank you!! those 2 factors are important and social media is "free" to the public and can reach a ton of people!!! thank you for your wonderful comments!!!

sas_web likes this
sasweb

Posted by @sasweb, Aug 16, 2011

Its a valuable point that there should be a proper and structured health education from a young age. This would absolutely help nurturing in us a proper awareness and a better healthy lifestyle. How I wish we all had proper health education so that we wouldnt be leading the unhealthy lifestyle we are into right now 🙂 I do not remember any meaningful classes that I had during my school days in India and later in UAE. This could be one of your motto in ur professional life going forward to create a chain reaction engaging the younger generation and getting them actively involved in educating and empowering them in the health arena.

ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

how cool would it be if there really was a chain reaction to improve health worldwide and social media is the first domino that start to tip over the others in the process. of course since health systems in various countries are so different, there is no one size fits all, but definitely having education from an early age would be great everywhere.....now later if the economic, social, etc systems allow one to manage their own health and be able to be healthy is another question......

sasweb

Posted by @sasweb, Aug 17, 2011

Agree with your point on health education from early age. I am not sure, but I have read somewhere that, there is evidence that one of the best ways to improve a family's health is to educate the mother. Voila! Isn't there, where we should start then? Social media communication could increase the access women have to information they can use to keep their family healthy. And also on your point of different socio-economic and geographic systems means different approach; there is so much work to be done, but the stepping stones, I think are already in place. We can make this happen, but we need to open out minds to the possibilities! As you said, let social media be the first domino and let you be the one to push it on!

ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 17, 2011

Women after all are typically the gatekeepers of health in the family! i agree with you that educating them would help not only them but the family as well! hahahah yes dominos!!! thank you for your comment!

magdi

Posted by @magdi, Aug 16, 2011

Hi Reka,I am working in the medical field.Communication between Patients doctors ,, specialist and, labs are not very well coordinated.Sometimes PT has to wait for results -feedbacks for weeks. In the main time they are sooooo nervous. They might go on the Internet and google up something, but that might be not the right answer .We should take much better care of our patients. The question is how? I hope you can come up with great ideas.We need some major remodeling. Thank you for trying to do something new.!

ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

hi! isn't it frustrating that coordination is so difficult??? i can't imagine waiting long days for a test result that was really important and not being able to relax because of this just because the communication among my healthcare providers is inefficient!!! how frustrating! TAKING CARE OF PATIENTS!!!! you're so right, so following a people-centered philosophy when it comes to health care..... (like CAPCH: http://www.capch.ca/)

magdi

Posted by @magdi, Aug 16, 2011

Social media is going to have a major role in the medical field. I hope very soon people like you will be able find the solution for the big gap what we have now between doctors and patients.Go for it ! Thank you!

ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

yes there can surely be improvements to the doctor-patient relationship. i think this has changed tremendously over the past years since many patients look online for health information before even consulting a doctor. have you seen the Pew research? http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/20-Mind-the-Gap.aspx it's about peer-peer health. how can the doctor-patient relationship be improved???

amandad

Posted by @amandad, Aug 16, 2011

You are definitely on the right track. Social media plays a large role in our daily lives now. I even got a facebook message from my Grandpa last weekend and also just saw an advertisement for a new phone that literally has a "facebook" button where you can instantly upload information to a favorite social media site. Keep up the good work!

ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

wow great that your grandpa is on FB! my grandpa was savvy too! not really with technology, but in a different way! he always seemed to have energy and want to do everything. even when he was like 60, he acted 40....i remember even when he was getting really sick, he wouldn't let go of life and wanted to get better although the doctors told him it was quite hopeless!!! treasure the time you have with your grandparents!!!!

piotr

Posted by @piotr, Aug 16, 2011

Very moving story, hope that you'll be able to attend the conference!!

ral

Posted by @ral, Aug 16, 2011

thank you!!!!

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