My hybrid identity

This last few days at the Stanford Medicine X Ed conference (and following along with the Medicine X conference), I found myself in an weird position of hybrid identity. My experience with medical education is with the work I’ve done with the Department of Family Medicine and Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. Through that work I’ve become a little bit familiar with Canadian Medical education. Although I’m not an MD, I understand some of the lingo. I understand a bit about how medical education works, and how residency education in family medicine works. I’m far from an expert, but I’m familiar.

But as an engaged patient, my experience is all America. Sure, I’ve been a patient in Canada, but as Carolyn aptly puts it, my acute care episodes within the Canadian healthcare system don’t qualify me as a patient (or at least not as an ePatient). I do not have an ePatient view into the Canadian medical system. I do, however, have an ePatient view into the American (and more specifically the California) healthcare system. I have experience dealing with two different healthcare organizations. I have experience with the American system of choosing your healthcare team (this was really difficult for me to grasp at first). I no longer think twice about booking appointments for second opinions (which may be one thing that contributes to the high cost of healthcare in the US). From an ePatient perspective, my expertise is solidly planted within the US heath care system.

The Medicine X Ed conference also made me realize that I really need to get some new business cards. Part of what has been holding me back is what to put on them. What do I call myself? How do I say who I am on a single card? How do I brand myself?

When I met the super cool folks at Fusion Tech, I was a little embarrassed that the only business cards I had were ones that said I was a student at uOttawa or the ones from our Going East bike trip. I didn’t have anything that said I’m a blogger, write, associate lecturer (that a fancy academic title that says I work as a contingent part time instructor at a university) … or any of the variety of other titles I’ve given myself over the last 20 years.

I have a couple more conferences coming up in the next couple of weeks (Health 2.0 and dLRN). I’m going to need to figure out those new business cards pretty quickly – otherwise, I’ll be in the same awkward position of handing out old cards that don’t really speak to who I am today.

4 responses

  1. Scott Johnson Avatar

    Wanted to add that Carolyn is right to say you have the qualifications to take on any role that draws your attention. Not sure what to call the skill so I’ll say you have a gift for not just noticing an un-served need but being able to populate it with workable ideas. Many people stop at the good idea level and fail to a follow through–which is where the real action is. And the risk.
    Be interesting to make a list of characteristics common to hybrid people like you and Maha. It’s more than ignoring boundaries just to see what happens. Feels more deliberate like the idea of an E-patient becoming a real entity with values and directions to go in–having and demonstrating purpose.
    Good luck with the business cards. They are really important.

  2. Scott Johnson Avatar

    I’ve experienced both the US and Canadian systems at most levels and in spite of the Canadian image of progressiveness is imaginary. In a few minutes I leave for a “yearly” exam that has been delayed for 4 months due to staff shortages, messages lost and not followed up and best indication of a system in shambles, receptionists providing me with the inside names and phone numbers to enable me to bypass the system and book things myself. In fact, speaking of hybrid, I’m thinking it might be cool to set up a doctor booking service like a travel agency and market timely access to to care. There are already “appointment clubs” in this town where someone in the group always has an appointment to trade-off in a pinch. Since it takes an average of 5 weeks to see a doctor and there’s no provision for continuing care even if you need it, this is a pretty active service.

    More later.

  3. Carolyn Thomas Avatar

    Hi Becky – I think you’re slightly mistaken (ever so slightly!) You DO have all the qualifications you’ll ever need to call yourself a patient or an ePatient or whatever terminology you choose, no matter where you live. I think it’s far less about where your health care experiences have taken place or under which health care system, and more about WHAT you’re experiencing. In my own blog, readers from all over the world (190 countries so far) share what they’ve gone through and learned, discovering that their personal experiences with serious illness are what helps to unite them – whatever their citizenship.

    Have fun at Health 2.0 (I recommend Vistaprint for fabulous business cards, by the way: beautiful and easy templates, fast service, great value ( )


  4. Maha Bali Avatar

    I thought ppl at edtech confs exchanged Twitter handles not business cards? 🙂
    So it’s the med ed confs that need em

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