I feel so fortunate to be a part of the op-ed project. After a very enlightening two days of education and empowerment we set off to write our own opinion pieces. I have published many scientific manuscripts and our research has been picked up in the media, however, I have never written my opinion. I have previously just talked about my research. I wrote my first piece with the help of my mentor, E.J., and it was published on CNN.com last week.
The response was overwhelming. The day it came out I watched as the facebook likes and comments increased by the hour. By then end of the day there were over 3000 likes and all kinds of comments and discussion. This was different from any research pick up I have had in the news. This was a bit more personal.
As much as I enjoyed all the appreciative e-mails, comments, and re-posts of the article, I was a bit shocked by the negative and sometimes “mean” comments. Luckily, in our sessions together, we discussed the push back and how to not take it personally. Although some comments made me feel angry, they also educated me on current public opinions. It is critical as we work on increasing awareness, that we understand the misconceptions and possible reasons behind them.
The experience of writing my opinion and all the positive and negative feedback has empowered me to trust my thoughts and feel comfortable sharing them as an expert. I learned a ton from this experience and I look forward to many more!
Ruchi Gupta, M.D., M.P.H, is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and a health services researcher at Northwestern University and Children’s Memorial Hospital. Dr. Gupta has significant interest and experience with community-based research. She is an OpEd Public Voices Fellow.