Sunday, September 16, 2012


Hello!  Let me first introduce myself, my name is Audrey Gifford.  I'm a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the graduate program Biomedical Visualization.  I graduated May 2012 from Iowa State University in Biological/Pre-medical Illustration, and I'm originally from West Des Moines, Iowa.

So, what am I doing here in Chicago?  

My interest lies in patient education for minority groups, specifically LGBT and women's health.  I would like to use new media/social media to help communicate ideas of health and general wellness more readily and easily.  An example would be having a free iPhone app that would explain your healthcare options as an LGBT individual.  There could also be an iPad app that a doctor could use to ask the right questions so every individual feels comfortable with language used and that their health is not compromised by lack of information/communication.

In a similar vein, I'm interested in creating better ambience in waiting rooms and examination rooms for all healthcare providing locations such as hospitals, dentists, etc.  Posters that depict different lifestyles, celebrating making personal choices, and create a connection between an average person and the care that they are there to receive could make every person feel comfortable within that space.  When a person feels at ease, communication is much more direct and open, resulting in better care overall.

Creating a connection between modern medicine and alternative medicine is an important step within our current healthcare system.  From past research I've done, many minority groups feel more comfortable using alternative medicine sources but through these practitioners patients can't always get important medical tests for certain diseases, such as a Pap smear.  If there were more connection between modern medicine practitioners and alternative medicine practitioners, patients could get the complete care they want from whom they want to get it from.

Overall, I want to create ways to communicate medical ideas to the public that uses new media - YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, apps, blogging, podcasts, etc. increasing health literacy.  Someone who inspires me is Jillian Michaels.  She has created a health brand that includes youtube videos (, her own podcasts, she creates fitness videos, health apps, and uses new technology to help incorporate health choices in our daily lives.  Blogs such as Iowa Girl Eats (, Peanut Butter Fingers (, and Oh She Glows ( also are really interesting to me and represent a way of communication I would like to learn and use.

I want people to realize that being healthy is a simple part of everyday life, not a once a year, 30 minute check up with a doctor you barely know.  Taking simple steps over the course of a lifetime will result in quality of life down the road.  Over the course of two years in school here in Chicago, it is my goal to make connections with similarly-minded people and find a way to make these ideas become a reality.  This blog will document that journey, so let's see how it goes!

Polar bear at the Lincoln Park Zoo

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