By Laura Fenton
Everything after the words “you have cancer” is still a blur to Gretchen Norling Holmes,
even seven years later. She is thankful she had someone with her at her appointment
to hear the doctor’s information that followed.
For any important appointment with a doctor, Holmes now stresses to bring along “another
set of ears because office visits can be very nerve-racking.”
It is tips like this that Holmes, assistant professor in the Department of Communication,
and others offer to listeners of the U of M radio program “Let’s Talk Health.”
The broadcast is a collaborative effort between the Loewenberg School of Nursing (LSON)
and the Department of Communication. The weekly spots air on the University-affiliated
radio station, WUMR-FM 91.7, on Monday through Friday at 4:55 p.m. A new segment
debuts each week.
“There’s not very much information out there about how to empower patients to be active
participants in their healthcare,” Holmes said. “That’s what is exciting about these
Lisa Beasley (left), clinical assistant professor in Loewenberg School of Nursing,
and Gretchen Norling Holmes, assistant professor of communication, collaborate on
the “Let’s Talk Health” radio show that offers medical information to WUMR-FM listeners.
(Photo by Rhonda Cosentino)
Holmes and Lisa Beasley, family nurse practitioner and clinical assistant professor
in LSON, share the duty of hosting the segments.
This project boomerangs Beasley to her first career as radio and voiceover professional,
a job she held for 17 years prior to returning to school to pursue nursing degrees.
“It’s ironic to go back to something that I did for so many years,” she said. “It’s
been a lot of fun.”
Holmes writes and delivers the segments related to health communication. Beasley delivers
the segments, each written by Beasley or a different LSON professor, related to health
Segments cover topics such as avoiding colds, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, depression,
how to get more out of your doctor visit, doctor jargon and doctor rapport.
Currently, 19 segments are recorded and are ready for airing.
“We hope to keep refreshing those,” Beasley said. “Other faculty members have come
forward and said they have other ideas for topics that they would like to include.”
One topic Beasley would like to include is smoking cessation, a topic close to her
personal life. Beasley quit smoking six years ago after caring for a patient with
lung cancer. What she learned from that man inspired her to finally quit.
“I think since then, I’ve been able to inspire other people because of his story,”
she said. “This patient didn’t know how many lives he affected.”
All segments are beneficial for listeners of any age. Not understanding medical jargon
affects many people, “but that’s not because the older people don’t understand it;
sometimes nobody understands it,” Holmes said.
Other, more sensitive topics deal with creating an advance health care directive,
or living will, which outlines what should happen if a person can no longer make his
or her own medical decisions. Clearly communicating these instructions is not just
for grandparents; it’s for everyone because “I mean, who knows?” Holmes said.
All segments are archived online. Holmes recommends listening more than once to the
information, if possible.
“These are tools to help patients be more proactive so they can communicate their
needs, their issues and their concerns in a more effective way so hopefully their
healthcare provider will respond to it,” she said.
For more information, or to listen to the podcasts of aired radio spots, visit www.memphis.edu/letstalkhealth.