Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Meet Allison Bland, Communications Program Assistant

Welcome to New Voice Allison Bland, Communications Program Assistant at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

NV: What do you do?

Allison: I help maintain ASCO's patient website, Cancer.Net, by working with oncologists to review and update the latest information on cancer treatment and care. I also work with Cancer.Net's social media on Twitter and Facebook.

NV: What is the most challenging part of what you do?

Allison: Another part of my job is to help answer phone calls, emails, and letters from people with cancer and their families. People turn to ASCO looking for resources at any point during their cancer treatment. I help these people by directing them towards the best resources and information, but it can be difficult because I'm not able to give medical advice. Many times, patients are very educated about their diagnosis and come to us looking for the next step. It's challenging to explain complex medical information to someone who is dealing with a cancer diagnosis over the phone.

NV: When did you first become interested in science?

Allison: My dad is a physicist, but he never pushed me towards a career in science. I have always been a writer, and dabbled in science because I was interested in how new discoveries can make the world better. Combining the two led me to science communication, and I'm following that track now.

NV: What’s the most common misconception about scientists?

Allison: I think one of the most common misconceptions about scientists is that there is a single-track, vaguely defined career for a "scientist." The reality is that there are many kinds of jobs in the science field, and these types of jobs are becoming more important all the time.

NV: What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved in advocacy and/or outreach?

Allison: Take full advantage of online tools. The communities that form around online platforms like blogging networks or Twitter attract people who know the issues and have similar interests in science outreach and advocacy. I think the best way to get involved is through participation in online communities and then finding face-to-face events -- conferences, science cafes, happy hours -- to take the next step.

Some of you may remember that Allison was a contributor to the New Voices blog. We thank Allison for sharing her experience and advice about science communications and advocacy. This is part of the ongoing Profiling New Voices series.

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