Posted by Bonnie Sheeren (@bonniesheeren) · Aug 8, 2014
Bonnie Sheeren - Patient/Caregiver Scholarship 2014
I have had many adventures in health care. I endured hit or miss interactions with the medical community most of my life up through my twenties. Ignorance was not bliss, but it was the only option.
After college, I went into educational video production, my friends talked me into coming to the Texas Medical Center. Working at M.D. Anderson Cancer as a writer/producer convinced me that patients need to know as much as possible in order to make their treatments successful. Then, being transferred to UT-Houston Health Science Center, I covered all medical topics and spent a great deal of time in the Hermann Hospital ER, documenting trauma treatments. All this would hold me in good stead during the next decade when I went from standing around a procedure room to being the one on the stretcher.
My many sinus surgeries reflected the evolution of the field and also the uncertainty of the actual diagnosis. I spent hour upon hour researching everything so that I could be the best possible partner in my own care. Then, I needed hip surgery. My research led me to conclude that hip resurfacing was my best option, but it wasn’t FDA approved at the time. Yet, I found a doctor who agreed that hip resurfacing would provide the outcome I needed and helped me make this happen. Emerging from all these surgeries and procedures, I began to realize that many people didn’t have my background to successfully maneuver through the health care maze. I began to help friends and family answer their questions when confronted with medical issues.
Then two national patient advocacy groups came to my attention: APHA (Alliance of Professional Health Advocates) and NAHAC (National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants). I felt it was time to try to help others on a professional basis and I joined both organizations. I incorporated my business (Houston Health Advocacy, LLC), acquired a website (www.HoustonHealthAdvocacy.com), created a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/HoustonHealthAdvocacy), generated a Pinterest page (www.pinterest.com/houstonhealth/), Tweeted (twitter.com/bonniesheeren), connected with a nationwide group of like-minded advocates on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=42739613), and attempted to blog (http://notadoctorjustawriter.wordpress.com/).
As much as I love being right in the middle of this exciting new world of helping health care become accessible and understandable to as many people as possible---I feel a little overwhelmed by the world of social media. I actually had someone recommend that I also do Instagram---I can’t imagine adding more to the mix! Yet, it’s hard not to try to be on every platform—learning more and passing on that information to others.
I am thrilled to be part of this new age in medicine. I love reading “Kevin Pho, MD” with the many voices chiming in as well as books by Drs. Nuland, Groopman, Gawande, and Makary among many others. Thank you for offering this medical Social Media Summit---it will lead to great things for the future of U.S. health care.
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