Last summer Ethan Chuang participated in two different healthcare related projects. His takeaway? “Adolescents can make a substantial contribution.”
He’s learned from experience that whether the work seems insignificant or puts existing skills to use in a new way, he can make a difference for others.
In the first project, he says the work “specifically addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the protocols necessary to prevent the spread to those most vulnerable in the community.” He explains, “I worked with the Infection Control service of the University of California Irvine. I helped monitor the observance of infection control protocols in nursing homes to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to elderly frail residents. He worked as a “third party observer and reported when protocol violations occurred in an effort to improve personnel compliance with institutional protocols. Over my involvement in the project, I personally observed a noticeable improvement in staff compliance with mask wearing, social distancing when required, and hand hygiene. These improved proper hygiene practices led to a safer environment for patients of the nursing homes.”
The second project is where those video production skills proved beneficial. Ethan worked in a clinical research lab at Rady Children’s Hospital “dedicated to improving the process of transition of adolescents with chronic diseases from pediatric-to-adult-centered care. Preparation for transition requires adolescents to gain health literacy, or sufficient skills and knowledge needed to manage their own health issues.”
He organized a group of five peers called “MyChart Navigators.” He continues, “We created teen-to-teen videos to improve adolescent health literacy. We created videos addressing a number of topics, including how to use the electronic health record patient portal, which is called MyChart at Rady Children’s Hospital. Our videos cover important topics such as ‘What is MyChart?,’ ‘How to Sign Up for MyChart,’ ‘How to Read Your Medical Note,’ ‘How to Understand and Refill Your Prescriptions,’ ‘How to Make Medical Decisions,’ ‘Health Insurance,’ ‘How to Talk to Your Doctor’ and more. After we created these videos, we asked adolescents with chronic disease to watch the videos and give their opinions on a scale of 0 to 10. They reported high scores for comprehension, engagement and learning for our videos. They also reported a high likelihood of future use of the electronic health record patient portal, which was a major goal of the project. I and some of my fellow MyChart Navigators presented these successful results at the Interprofessional Symposium at Rady Children’s Hospital on October 12, 2020. The lab plans to use these videos to improve adolescent patient interest in utilizing MyChart in future interventions.”
Ethan says he was inspired to get involved by family members who work in the healthcare field; he is grateful for his “excellent clinical and scientific mentors,” as well as his peer collaborators. Initially, he says, “I was skeptical of the significance of my work and the impact I would have in both situations. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how impactful my work could be. I have always had skills in video-making and editing, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the meaningful effects of my videos on others. I also learned the importance of health education. In particular, how you present information affects how others receive and understand your messages.” He plans to continue working with MyChart Navigators to “improve adolescent health literacy during this year.”