May 25, 2011

How Did I End Up On the Mayo Clinic Advisory Board?


Editor's note: Tom Vanderwell (@tvanderwell) is a member of the External Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

You know, I've asked my self that on a number of occasions. Let me tell you a bit about that story because I think it will help you understand more of the rest of what I'll be writing here.

My story with Mayo Clinic starts in 1978.  Yeah, before the invention of the Internet and all of that. I've been a patient at Mayo three times now in 1978, 1984 and 2009. If you want to read more about that part of my story, read this blog post.

From 1991 to 2011, I was a mortgage lender and during the last few years, I was very involved in using social media to promote my business, educate people about the "pitfalls" of the mortgage world, help people understand where mortgage rates were going etc. I was invited to write on a couple of quite prestigious mortgage and real estate blogs. I also began using Twitter at that point.

In 2009, shortly after returning from Mayo, I was "talking" with a friend on twitter and made a comment something along the line of "better than being a patient at Mayo" in response to something he said (I don't remember exactly what it was). Lee Aase was surfing Twitter for the mention of Mayo and he popped on and asked me if I had a bad experience at Mayo. I told him it was the exact opposite - Mayo was a great place to go but there isn't such a thing as a good hospital stay.

Lee and I struck up a friendship and have met for coffee or lunch at least three times since then and keep up with each other on Facebook and Twitter. When Mayo began the planning for their Center for Social Media, Lee asked me if I'd consider being on their Advisory Board. I agreed almost immediately.

So, do I bring the experience of a medical professional to the board? No, I don't. Do I bring the experience of a patient at Mayo? Yes I do. I'm also someone who has been using social media in their business world for quite a while.

And that brings me to the rest of the story......

In 2004, my wife and I adopted two children from Haiti. They were 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 at that time. In 2006, I joined the board of the orphanage called God's Littlest Angels. They are located about 1 to 1 1/2 hours south of Port Au Prince.  Until January 12, 2010, being on the board of directors was a relatively calm volunteer effort.

That all changed with a tweet that I got from the LA Times at 5:07 pm on January 12, 2010 which was the first news that we had of the earthquake that happened at 4:53 pm. That touched off the most crazy, chaotic emotional period of time as we here in the states worked to help those in the devastation in Haiti. I had been operating the orphanage blog for a couple of months but I had no idea how important that would become over the next months and years.

Per discussions with Lee, I'm putting together a series of blog posts called "Social Media and the Orphans in Haiti." It's going to tell the stories of how social media has made an impact in the lives of orphans and the orphanage. Then we'll wrap up the stories with a series of "Lessons" from what I've experienced and how it can impact social media and it's use in the health care world.   My target is to run one story approximately ever two weeks.

The first story in "Social Media and the Orphans in Haiti" is coming up soon.

The title?   "Tom Vanderwell, Ann Curry is now following you on Twitter."   What?  🙂

Thanks for listening and thanks for being willing to consider using social media to make the world a better place.

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