How to Translate Your Scholarship

Neil Armstrong said, “Research is creating new knowledge.” Research provides us with the ability to test new theories. Explore new ideas. Experiment with new things. For example, without research, we would not have learned about the link between genetics and hereditary cancer. Without research, we would not have new innovative technologies for cancer screening and prevention. Without research, there would be no “new knowledge.”

Yet, research for research’s sake is not enough. As academics, we must utilize our own acquired research knowledge, interpreting, and applying it. I propose the following three steps to do so.

Step 1: Identify your contribution. What are you an expert about? Are you an expert on a particular topic? In my case, that’s previvors—individuals with an inherited mutation but who have not been diagnosed with cancer. Are you an expert on a context? Again, in my case, I am trained in health communication and decision making about genetic risk and hereditary cancer. Are you an expert in a method? I am working to become an expert in patient-powered research where patient and community stakeholders are involved in the research design, data collection and analysis, and write-up and dissemination process. Or are you an expert in a particular skill? For example, in a current project, I am co-creating a continuing education workshop on digital health literacy for genetic counselors. Determine your expertise first.

Step 2: Search for opportunities. Opportunities, especially digital opportunities, abound; you just need to find them. One way you can search for opportunities to translate your research is identify professional organizations and non-profits related to your expertise area, familiarize yourself with their mission and services, and sign up for their listservs so you can offer your assistance. Another way is paying attention to significant media stories relevant to your work and contact media outlets to offer your expertise. Last, use social media such as Twitter and Facebook by utilizing hashtags specific to your expertise. A few that I have found particularly helpful in networking and collaborating include the following: #AcademicChatter, #AcademicTwitter, #bcsm (breast cancer social media), #ayacsm (adolescent and young adult cancer social media), and #HealthComm.

Step 3: Share your research. At the minimum, share your research with your department by sending emails to your chair. Share your research with your college and/or university. At my institution, there is a digital form you can fill out to announce recent, impactful publications, or grant funding. Share your research with your profession using your professional organizations and societies. In my field, scholars can submit to the National Communication Association’s Communication Currents or the International Communication Association’s blog. One can also submit to the CDC’s Health Communication Science Digest, which is a monthly PDF that details recently published journal articles and reports about health communication and marketing science.

However, for your work to have a broader impact, it’s also important to share your research with the public. While there are many ways to do this, I have found five strategies to be most fruitful and worth my time and effort: guest podcasts, guest blogging, TEDx talks, non-field conferences and events, and Twitter.

  1. Guest Podcasts: Podcasts are a great way to share your knowledge and expertise, which can reach a larger but specific audience but also enables you to provide the story behind your research. For example, during the summer of 2020, I was featured in the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC)’s “Genetic Counselors & You Podcast” series where I spoke about uncertainty in genetic testing and offered ways to navigate uncertainty.


  1. Guest Blogging: I recommend guest blogging – not maintaining your own blog. I did that initially, and it was too time-consuming for the reach. Instead, find opportunities to highlight your research findings on others’ websites. For example, when I published an article in the journal Health Communication, which analyzed almost 100 websites about Angelina Jolie’s 2013 New York Times op-ed about her preventive double mastectomy, I also wrote a guest blog post for the Cancer Knowledge Network’s website summarizing these findings and discussing the importance of this celebrity health narrative.


  1. TEDx Talks: TEDx talks are another great way to share your research findings but relate them to people’s lives. These talks build your credibility in the university, but they can also get picked up and featured on the TED website. Moreover, videos tend to attract more attention as well as can be stored and shared. For example, drawing on my research but also my personal health experiences, in my TEDxUSF talk, I addressed how to make decisions based on uncertain, and sometimes surprising, information.


  1. Non-Field Specific Conferences and Community Events: Share your research with the communities most impacted by your results by presenting at relevant, non-field specific conferences and community events. In my case, I focus on medical communities and hereditary cancer communities. For instance, I have presented at the Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE)’s annual conference, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives and families facing hereditary cancer, and I also have spoken at community events such as the keynote speaker for a sorority event during October for Breast Cancer Awareness month.


  1. Twitter: Finally, share your research results broadly using social media platforms like Twitter. Many academics and more recently journals are disseminating not just their article references but creating and sharing key findings visually. Simple and free tools to do this include Canva and Venngage.

In short, it is not enough to simply discover knowledge. We must share our knowledge so that more might benefit.

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Patient-Centered Care and Communication

Patient-centered care establishes a partnership among clinicians, patients, and their families to ensure the patient’s desires, needs, and preferences are met when making decisions as well as supporting the patient to actively participating in healthcare interactions.

While patient-centered communication may be led by the clinician, it is performed jointly by the clinician and the patient. Together, the clinician and patient should enact the following communication tasks:

  1. Fostering the patient-clinician relationship
  2. Exchanging information
  3. Responding to emotions
  4. Managing uncertainty
  5. Making decisions and
  6. Enabling patient self-management.

Fostering the patient-clinician relationship includes building trust and rapport and working to understand each person’s roles and responsibilities in the healthcare interaction.

Exchanging information involves seeking information (e.g., asking questions and exploring beliefs, giving information (e.g., offering explanations, providing test results, sharing histories), and verifying information (e.g., checking for comprehension and accuracy).

Responding to emotions encompasses identifying emotions, acknowledging and then validating those emotions, as well as providing referrals to appropriate services.

Managing uncertainty includes acknowledging uncertainty, framing information based on what is known and what is unknown, active listening, and being empathetic.

Making decisions involves exchanging information, deliberating about clinical information and recommendations, and making a final joint decision.

Enabling patient self-management encompasses navigating the healthcare system, teaching coping skills, and drafting contingency plans for possible outcomes.

You treat a disease,
You win, you lose.
You treat a person,
I guarantee you win –
No matter the outcome.
~ Patch Adams, Film (1998)

To learn more information about patient-centered care, please visit:

test yourself!

1) During your shift as an OB/GYN, your patient just found out that her baby has jaundice—yellowing of the skin due to liver problems. To help raise the baby’s billirubin levels and reduce the yellowing of the skin, you explain to the mother will have to use a bllilamp before her baby is discharged. You notice your patient can’t take her eyes off her baby and is trying not to cry. You address her negative emotions by acknowledging that this information may cause her to worry; you also affirm that you will be there to listen to any of her concerns and support her during this treatment. What patient-centered communication task does this scenario describe?

A) Exchanging information
B) Responding to emotions
C) Managing uncertainty
D) Making decisions

2) Your patient was diagnosed with Types 2 Diabetes. During her consultation, she discloses that each night she wakes up wondering how the disease will affect her body as well as her quality of life. You suggest some self-care skills such as mediation, positive thinking, and journaling to help her cope. What patient-centered communication task are you suggesting?

A) Exchanging information
B) Managing uncertainty
C) Enabling patient self-management
D) Fostering a healing relationship

3) Your patient recently had a mild heart attack. Your patient needs to decide about putting a stent in his artery. To help your patient decide what to do, you explore his different perspectives about this surgery, deliberate by discussing clinical results for this course of action for men his age, and then support him and his family’s preferences when they decide whether to put a stent in. What patient-centered communication task does this scenario describe?

A) Fostering a healing relationship
B) Enabling patient self-management
C) Managing uncertainty
D) Making decisions

4) You admitted an unconscious 12-year-old boy to your emergency department. His father is with him. First, you ask the father questions to determine what happened to the child to properly diagnosis and treat him. Next, you run some tests, share the results, offer a diagnosis, and construct a treatment plan with the father. Before discharging the child, you ask the father to verify he understands his son’s treatment plan by repeating it back in his own words. What patient-centered communication task does this scenario describe?

A) Responding to emotions
B) Fostering a healing relationship
C) Managing uncertainty
D) Exchanging information

5) During your work as a pharmacist, you are discussing the importance of the patient taking her prescribed medication. Your patient is significantly concerned about possible, uncertain side effects. Instead of discounting her concerns, you actively listen and acknowledge that while there may be some unknown side effects of the medication, research has found the medication to be safe for her illness. What patient-centered communication task does this scenario describe?

A) Responding to emotions
B) Managing uncertainty
C) Making decisions
D) Fostering a healing relationship

6) Your patient has been diagnosed with high blood pressure. This diagnosis will require your patient to make some changes. You and he discuss that he will focus on eating fewer high fat/high calorie foods, consuming less salt, and taking medication. You ask if these steps are feasible given where he lives and his insurance coverage. Additionally, you recommend scheduling a follow-up appointment in 6 weeks to check in, run any needed tests, and make any more suggestions based on his progress. What patient-centered communication task does this scenario describe?

A) Making decisions
B) Fostering a healing relationship
C) Exchanging information
D) Managing uncertainty

Answers – 1) B – 2) C – 3) D – 4) D – 5) B – 6) B

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How to Be an Empowered Patient

An empowered patient is one who has influence in their healthcare interactions and affairs to improve their health and quality of life.

Patient empowerment encompasses three main abilities: (1) information seeking, (2) critical self-reflection, and (3) communication skills. First, an empowered patient seeks health information from multiple sources such as clinicians, credible websites, social support networks (in-person and online), and family members and friends. Second, an empowered patient engages in critical self-reflection. Having influence over one’s health requires an understanding of one’s needs, desires, and preferences. Third, an empowered patient utilizes communication skills to actively participate in their healthcare interactions, seeing themselves as a key healthcare team member.

Although there are many communication skills that can be helpful in healthcare encounters, the ABCs are a good place to start!


  1. ASK Questions – Ask your clinician questions. As patients we often do not ask our clinicians questions because we may feel we are taking up too much of their time or we are embarrassed that we don’t understand something. If you have felt this way before, know that you are not alone; yet, to overcome this, write down your questions prior to your appointment. Then tell you clinician at the beginning of the consultation, “Hey, I’m sure you are busy, but there are a few really important questions I would like answered today. Here’s the list. Can we make sure to talk about them at some point?”
  2. BRING Information – Keep meticulous records about your health and healthcare. Furthermore, bring relevant information to your appointments, especially if you have a chronic condition or see many different clinicians throughout the year. Also, store a list of medications in your wallet or purse. Finally, have a folder/binder or utilize a mobile app to keep all your medical information including insurance, billing, and future appointments. Having this information available and easily accessible will assist your clinicians in caring for you holistically.
  3. CHECK Understanding – Verify that you understand the information provided to you by your clinicians. This communication skill is perhaps the most helpful. Oftentimes clinicians give us a lot of information during our healthcare encounters, so before leaving any appointment, make sure to say: “Based on my appointment today, these are the things I need to do…Is that correct?”

In short, gaining knowledge, being able to critically self-reflect, and performing specific communication skills can help us become empowered patients who make informed health decisions and improve our quality of life.

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