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.

@vitoria

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

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thanks! have a great day 🙂 life is wonderful!

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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.

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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!

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@samank

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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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 🙂

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@boldilassu

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.

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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!!!

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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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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.

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@naimalara

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!

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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!!!

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

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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 😉

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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!

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@laurianne

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

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

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@bkassym

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 😉

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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!

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