Acumen Fund Student Leaders Workshop

Earlier this summer, 17 students from across the US and around the world came together in New York City to talk about one thing: social entrepreneurship. I was privileged to participate in the Acumen Fund‘s inaugural Student Leaders Workshop and the experience was insightful, exciting, and humbling all at once.

While the workshop focused on poverty alleviation and development through “patient capitalism,” many of the lessons I took away from the program have significant implications for all things public health. (It seems, after all, the more public health courses I take, the more I recognize the importance of well-structured, well-managed, sustainable interventions that truly address the needs of the people served.) The solution? More focus on market mechanisms.

While market mechanisms may not work for everything (read: health care in the US), there is definitely something to say for the empowerment of the underserved by supporting a long-lasting business economy, not providing charity and aid alone. Organizations like Kiva, Ashoka, Skoll Foundation, Echoing Green, and Acumen Fund are recognizing the potential for growth, and “social returns” in a new and emerging market populus: the poor. By targeting the “base of the [economic] pyramid,” companies can find new opportunities for profit while including underserved populations in to the global economy. And not just as consumers, but producers too. It’s worth looking up if you haven’t done so before. Check out #socent on Twitter if you really want to see what’s going on.

Our student group was also fortunate enough to hear the enthusiastic words of businessman, marketing guru, best-selling author, and activist Seth Godin. He offered a lot if interesting wisdom and a challenge to young students to fight against the status quo and truly make a difference in the world. One of his pearls worth listening to: “Don’t go to medical school.”

The group of passionate, out-spoken, intelligent students (of whom I came across clearly by mistake) came to the workshop each offering their unique skills, vision, and ideals. Each left with enthusiasm to continue the work of creating positive social change and each left with a determination to continue the push for a social movement to end global poverty.

Currently, the group is working on developing a new product that will help spread awareness for the ideas of social entrepreneurship in bringing about change in poverty alleviation, health, and sustainable energy. Additionally, a viral film is in production to bring people together from all over the world to see what changes can be made through social enterprise (Find out more here or get involved here)

Let’s get to work.


Tweet, Tweet, Tweet

I first “discovered” Twitter about a year ago during my internship. I was looking at conventional and unconventional ways of how companies improve their customer service relationships when I stumbled upon this blog entry about how JetBlue was using Twitter. I thought it was pretty fascinating and not just because the article started with a William Shatner reference. I found it interesting because it begs the question, were companies like JetBlue and Comcast using Twitter to help improve customer service or were they using it more as a PR/marketing gimmick?

And most importantly, could Twitter even be used in health care?

At the time, I concluded no. To most people, when I said the word “Twitter” at the time, I was met with blank stares (until recently, I also got this while saying “Star Trek”). No one really used it or even heard about it. “What the hell are you talking about?” was the comment question. Yet, as I searched through “Tweets,” I couldn’t help but be impressed by the vast number of users out there and the significant number of entries about their health care experience. Yet, I wondered how health care organizations like hospitals could use Twitter? Could they even interact with patients this way? I’ve taken way too many HIPAA “training courses” to know this may be a bit dicey.

Of course, what a difference a year can make. I think Twitter has definitely made a foothold in popular culture, with celebrities, news reporters, and even law makers writing Tweets regularly. It’s even helped build community on the information superhighway.

In health care, Twitter has been used in some conventional and unconventional ways. At the health IT conference I attended, various attendees tweeted their experiences at the various panels. For a friend of mine in NYC, she was able to follow along the Tweets with the general highlights and news of the conference without actually attending and being there. Children’s Medical Center in Texas recently earned the distinction of tweeting a kidney transplant live in order to bring awareness to the condition among children. And even politicians are adding to the healthcare tweeting dialogue, especially in the smackdown arena.

But has it really been leveraged as best as it can be? Does Twitter have more potential in health care? Have we not used it to the best degree in our field of work? I don’t know. But there are a lot of possibilities.

As I walked by a Metro newspaper stand in NYC, I noticed the front page headline: “Study: Twitter’s Close to Completely Useless.” Do you agree? Do you Twitter? Feel free to discuss!

(And now hear what Conan thinks of Twitter at the 5:13 mark…)

Do you have a Yale business card?

Have you ever written your name, number, and e-mail address on a napkin to keep in touch with someone? Now you don’t have to. Order your customized business cards before heading out for your summer internship. You may want to keep in touch with the people you meet for a potential job, research project, or just to exchange business cards.

Go to:
Select the “School of Public Health Student” business card.
Price: 250/$22 ; 500/$28

In order to comply with the University’s plan for a more environmentally friendly print arena, we recently switched our plain white and cream house papers and card stocks to papers and card stocks with recycled content.

Public Health & Technology Conference

Public Health & Technology Conference

May 1st in Boston

“Working in a Global Health Setting”

Are you interning abroad this summer? Most of you have traveled before, lived and/or worked internationally. This workshop will still be extremely informational and useful.

Join us this WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22nd from 12-1pm at LEPH 115

Guest speakers: Jennifer Staple, Founder, President & CEO of Unite for Sight and Mary Ann Booss, Office of Community Health

They will discuss public health ethics, professionalism, entrepreneurship, and cultural do’s/don’ts.

*International snacks and domestic drinks will be provided.

Mingle Til You Tingle

8 effective tips on how to network prior to Wednesday’s Alumni-Student Networking Reception. Enjoy!

"Turn That Frown Upside Down"

If you ever are thinking about going to a health care conference, one thing you should consider is to volunteer. One of the perks of being a volunteer is typically getting your conference fees waived. On the downside, you may need to work crazy hours or run around the conference with a walkie talkie in your head.

As part of my volunteer duties, I oversaw one of the Continuing Education rooms today and monitored a session on healthcare reform and its impact on health IT. This session, as well as other sessions focused on the recent stimulus package, has gotten a lot of buzz at the conference and there is a lot of interest in how the $19.1 billion earmarked for health IT can be translated to good business and higher quality. Minutes before the session began, the room was filled to capacity and I had to close the door and turn people away. Attendees were angry at me, and many sighed, yelled, and rolled their eyes at me.

Using my knowledge and skills in conflict resolution, I tried my best to mitigate the wackiness. When some of the attendees realized I was just a student, they soon backed off and actually a few decided to strike up a conversation with me about graduate school. One thing led to another, business cards were exchanged and meetings were planned.

And that, in a nutshell, is what conferences are all about. Networking. Every person is an opportunity, whether a sales person or a potential employee. Walking through the exhibit hall again today reiterated that sentiment once again. Exhibitors come up to you, pitching their products, and somehow make a connection between what they do or provide with how it’s going to dramatically change your life or your job. I encourage you all to try it at YSPH, whether in class or in the computer lab. Practice makes perfect when it relates to schmoozing.

Which leads me to the other thing about conferences. It’s all about SWAG, or as Michael Scott would put it, Stuff We All Get. Pens. Highlighters. T-shirts. And at this conference, lots of booze. I am now in possession of a lot of random stuff that I somehow have to either throw away or stuff in my suitcase coming back. But seriously. Everyone needs a bouncy ball that lights up. I don’t know how I ever lived without one before this conference.

All kidding aside, it’s fun meeting new folks working in industry and having some fascinating conversations about the latest and greatest in health care. And that’s one of the great draws of going to conferences so specific like HIMSS. You really get a wide variety of people. Plus, you have an opportunity to get rid of some of those business cards that you bought.

Today’s thought of the day:
The Institute of Medicine has a goal that 90% of care in the US be based on scientific evidence by 2020.

Today’s quesiton of the day:
Is this number too high? Too low?