Social Media Summit Scholarship Essay – Reka Anna Lassu

Posted by Groenke @joycegroenke, 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.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Just Want to Talk group.

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.

REPLY
@billangplus3

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

REPLY

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.

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

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@lucelia8

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.

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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?

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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

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@clampetskc

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.

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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?

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@olgap

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

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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???

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@seke

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.

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

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