Here is a blog featuring Vishal Kinkhabwala, one of the DIS Engage scholarship winners from STD Engage 2018.
One key takeaway that I learned from STD Engage is that social media has a huge impact on not only the personal and social lives of all members of society, but that social media can also be an effective way to provide education, counseling, and resources for patients and providers. I plan to use social media in my own work as a DIS by educating patients and their partners about safe sex practices, including PrEP and U=U, with social media posts and campaigns. Social media is an effective platform and when used correctly, brings us into the future of healthcare and healthy living.
In light of my experience so far and the lessons I took away from STD Engage, I find that training practices for all DIS should include the ability to ask for clarifications when discussing personal terms of identification with patients. I have found that it is OK to admit that we don’t fully know everything as a DIS, but being able to ask questions and make an active effort to learn more about our patients, from our patients, will establish a
stronger rapport, will strengthen our efficacy, and will make us much better DIS.
I truly enjoyed STD Engage. As this was my very first conference as a new DIS, what I enjoyed most was getting to network and see how health departments and DIS across the country handle similar and different health issues. I made some great friends from this conference, and definitely hope to use the lessons I learned to make me a better DIS, and to make the world a little bit healthier.
Vishal Kinkhabwala is a new DIS who works for the New York State Department of Health. Vishal is currently working on the HIV Molecular Clusters project throughout downstate New York. He holds a Masters degree in Public Health from Benedictine University, and graduated with his M.D. degree from Avalon University School of Medicine in June of 2018. Originally from Naperville, IL, Vishal loves to hike, travel, cook, and watch the Chicago Bears or Chicago Cubs when he isn’t working. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn!