I heard my name called, then the excited cheers of my family and friends. Walking across the stage and shaking hands with the College regents, I finally got to the College District President. He leaned towards me and, laughing, asked “Do you want any more chords?” I almost doubled up in laughter! This was the Collin College Spring 2017 commencement ceremony, and I had graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in the field of Communication, bedecked with my Phi Theta Kappa honor society stole, key and chords, as well as the Latin honors chord. So, Dr. Neil Matkin’s question was legit, and my answer would be that I had all the chords I needed for that moment. God blessed me with the grace to pursue my purpose with passion. My joy knew (and still knows) no bounds!
So, what makes a medical doctor venture into the field of Mass Communication? I’m sure that there are several reasons my colleagues have done so. However, my journey started in 2014, when the world was rocked by the Ebola virus epidemic. As I watched the crisis unfold in several countries in West Africa and in the United States, I was reminded of the huge communication gap between healthcare professionals and the public. There was so much misinformation and disinformation regarding this disease, which led to wrong preventive practices and numerous preventable deaths. The health sector had all the knowledge and expertise, but was helpless in the face of the social media frenzy with recommendations such as drinking and bathing in concentrated table-salt solution and eating raw onions once a day for three days (Gasp!).
This was disturbing to me as a healthcare professional with a duty to save lives, so I started thinking of ways to bridge this communication gap. I was already in Public Health, but it was obvious that we still did not have adequate access to, and control of, the various platforms of mass communication. Consider this. According to the Pew Research Center, 62% of adults in the U.S. get their news from social media sites. The percentage may not be that high in Africa, but in early 2016, Nigeria was reported to have over 15 million active Facebook users. Enough to attract a visit from the CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. How much social media presence does healthcare have? How many health-based television shows do we have on various networks, even in the Western world? How many of them are moderated by healthcare practitioners? Now, how many entertainment shows are there on these networks? And how many are not moderated by people in the industry? Pretty skewed, right?
This is my “Because…” to the “Why?” The reason why I took classes in Radio/Television, Public Speaking, Business and Professional Communication (and loved every minute!), and developed a new appreciation for History, Government, and Literature courses in the last few years, even though I hated the arts in high school! The raison d’être of drsally’sblog – to provide accurate, relevant and up-to-date content on wellness, health and safety to my growing audience, to bridge the communication gap between the healthcare professionals and the public, and to enable people make informed decisions regarding their health. While we’re still a long way off from our destination, I believe in celebrating every milestone.
To God Almighty, “Thank You for everything!” To my super-awesome son, Melvin and to my fantastic family and friends, “Thank you for your love and support on this awesome journey.” To my professors and colleagues at Collin College, as well as my colleagues at Brown Books Publishing Group (where I interned), “Thank you for introducing me to ‘A whole new world. A new fantastic point of view!’”