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.

Reka, thanks for sharing these thoughts and experiences. I hope that you will be able to attend the conference and have the opportunity to learn and grow even more.

REPLY
@annash

This essay gives a profound and clear prospective on the roles played in the health sector. This certain individual experience demonstrates how a caregiver ,in this case a family member , can improve the quality of life of a patient. In my opinion , by explaining the evolution of the process, the author did a great job of depicting that not only the doctor and the medicine can sustain the patients health, but also the people who surround that ill person play a significant role on improving one’s health. It showed that with the help of social media, hospital is no longer the only place for successful recovery. Today, the public takes on the occupational role that is so crucial to support and enhance satisfaction of life, hence in this case , social media can be seen as a prior or post therapy.
WE NEED PEOPLE LIKE YOU!
Thank you.

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YESSS quality of life!!! i think that is often overlooked. health isn’t just about avoiding or curing diseases or treating problems…..it also isn’t just about preventing them, but it’s about also improving the daily life of people. increasing happiness!!! this reminds me of the great movie Patch Adams!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gTwkAL3kLY of course what’s cool about the movie is that it’s based on a true story……and the whole point is that patients need not only a doctor but a friend as well “our mission is not only about delaying death but improving the quality of life”!!!!!!!! “you treat a disease, you win or lose but if you treat a person, i guarantee you win no matter what the outcome!”

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@cjardine

What a great passion Reka! Good luck and hope you make it to the conference!

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thank you! have a great day!!!!!!

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@isabelita

Reka, I read your essay with great interest and your words reminded me of another true, but also sad, story. The way we live health, pain and diseases should be improved, and there is no better way of doing this by studying the different communication paths between patients and caregivers. Sometimes I wish that my studies in communication (yep, same uni in Lugano!) could help me express myself and my feelings in a better way. It is not easy to feel, talk, understand, explain what is being sick or living with somebody who is not feeling well enough to provide for him/herself. Tell us more, then, when you will come back to Lugano after the conference! Good luck… for the many many Wednesday of your life!

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aw!!! thank you!! nice to hear from you!!! yeah the conference would really be my “wonderful wednesday”. really, as a child i always told everyone that wednesdays are the best and i always got weird looks like, why not saturday??? well because when your favorite person in the whole world (my grandma) comes to spend time with just you than there isn’t a day that’s better!!!!!! i think communication is super important but of course it’s easier to learn about it than to actually do it!! i also have a hard time sometimes trying to express what i would like to. i just talked on the phone to my grandma for like 30 min and she told me the same thing, i’m not joking about 10 times….it’s so nice to hear her voice and i am happy to be able to talk to her but at the same time it breaks my heart that i can’t help her condition….but like the post below, i CAN and WILL help her quality of life bc i can tell by her voice that she’s all similes during the call and that’s worth it!!!

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@angsay

Reka, thanks for sharing these thoughts and experiences. I hope that you will be able to attend the conference and have the opportunity to learn and grow even more.

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yes there is so much to learn and the more you learn the more obvious it is that you don’t know so much!!!!!

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I wish you all the success, Reka!

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Wow, I really hope you are able to attend the conference, because I can see how passionate you are about this topic and believe you could do a lot for the future of health care if given the opportunity. This essay was moving and displayed very well how treating just the disease isn’t going to make everything better, you have the treat the whole person, because what good is it to be healthy if you are not happy? I think you have found an important missing link between doctors/caregivers and patients. There is much to be explored in this field. Thank you for the essay and good luck, they would be lucky to have you at the event.

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@sasweb

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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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.!

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The potential for social media to benefit public health is enormous, from enabling people to communicate more easily to providing researchers with granular data they could only dream of analysing in the past. The technological aspect is almost the easy part though — there are still tough questions about how to balance privacy concerns with the public interest.

Best of luck!

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It’s a very good essay Reka ! I wish you all the success !!

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@l00lee

I wish you all the success, Reka!

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thank you! do you have a story as patient or caregiver…would you like to share it? 🙂

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@catalyst177

Wow, I really hope you are able to attend the conference, because I can see how passionate you are about this topic and believe you could do a lot for the future of health care if given the opportunity. This essay was moving and displayed very well how treating just the disease isn’t going to make everything better, you have the treat the whole person, because what good is it to be healthy if you are not happy? I think you have found an important missing link between doctors/caregivers and patients. There is much to be explored in this field. Thank you for the essay and good luck, they would be lucky to have you at the event.

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I am veryyyyyyy passionate about health communication!!!!! being happy is the key and happiness is often correlated with health! have you seen this positive psychology stuff from Martin E. P. Seligman? http://www.ted.com/talks/martin_seligman_on_the_state_of_psychology.html

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