I wrote this piece in the January of 2011 as part of a writing contest. I’ve reflected back to my days spent with Adi lately, and I realized I had forgotten the lesson her life had taught me. I was so heartbroken to realize my lack of remembering this simple but important concept, so I am making it my purpose to remember how she inspired me, how she taught me, and how she served as my hero. I will never forget Adi and her loving spirit; I only wish more people could have known her because she had a way of touching people on such a personal level that it benefited all who knew her. I love you and miss you Adi!
Photo by Eric Young.
Dear cancer survivors and anyone close to them,
This letter is to remind us-and all of those we love-that we are teachers in our lives. Through these inspirational battles, it can be easy to allow sadness to wash over us and forget there are people who will be by our side along the way. Even if we tend to forget, we are always supported.
A close friend of mine passed away March 6. Adi Thelen was a teacher, a mentor and a personal hero to me and many other people. She battled cervical cancer. Despite her short life, Adi managed to revive an instinct kept deep inside of all of us: unconditional love.
In a documentary titled “Determined,” produced by former Dixie State College students Bryan Johnson and Jared Burton, Thelen said: “If teachers can make a difference in your life, it’s because you allow us to come into your life to make that difference.”
This quote is something each of us should truly take time to ponder. This quote isn’t applicable just to teachers and professors; rather, it extends to everyone. Each person is a teacher in someone else’s life. The lesson of laughter is an example of this. Thelen constantly laughed and joked about her condition, saying she wanted to teach her friends another way to deal with the difficult situation. She focused on other people’s comfort before her own, and her unconditional love for everyone she met showed through. It is amazing to see someone going through the turmoil of the disease, yet still focus on others before worrying about him or herself.
This was the case for another dear friend of mine who battled breast cancer. Even after a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and the loss of her thick, blonde hair, she put her family first. All these events unfolded toward my graduation of high school. The family was supposed to come out for the event, but I received a call with an offer I couldn’t refuse. Her husband called and said it would cost the same to fly the family out to see my graduation, as it would be to purchase a real-hair wig. I knew she had a hopeful spirit until she lost her hair. As you might imagine, I told them to purchase the wig.
There is an important message with these lessons. The simple point is to be a supporter. Cheer them on throughout the process. You cannot battle cancer alone, but when you’re facing it with friends and family, it becomes somewhat bearable. Support can mean whatever you’d like it to mean: holding his or her hand through treatment, listening and being the shoulder to cry on, sending him or her uplifting messages and jokes, creating awareness, or just showing him or her you care.
To those going through cancer, remember it is OK to receive encouragement and ask for help. You may have a handful of supporters, or you may have hundreds, but know they are there for you through your ups and downs, your good days and bad days, through the hair loss and the weight loss, and anything else you may be dealing with.
The most important lesson for anyone to consider is this: Live every moment at that moment. It may seem cliché, but it is still important. Every strong person in my life who has battled cancer has said to not take life for granted because it only takes one phone call to change your life forever. I had received one of those phone calls from my doctor last year, and even though the doctor found no cancer cells developing, it changed my perspective on friendship, family and life.
I wish you all the best of health and the most memorable moments in life.
This is me. The raw, most pure form of myself. I’m that insecure, nervous and awkward girl who is still afraid of the dark and too scared to talk to guys. I’m what many labeled the over-emotional wreck that no one really took two seconds to really think about. I’ve struggled since I was young, and I continue to struggle as I grow up.
I grew up in El Cajon, California. I blended in with my fellow elementary school students who was popular because my dad worked at a local skating rink. The majority of the people didn’t like me for me, but for the fact that I could get them free tickets into the rink. I think it was then, for the first time in my life, that I realized that unless I had something to give, I wasn’t special. This was really obvious once the skating rink closed down due to a broken beam in the ceiling. I had grown up in that skating rink. I roller skated in competitions, and I was always thrilled to wear my newest routine outfit and dance to “Baby Elephant Walk” or the “Mickey Mouse March.” So I cried the day they began selling pieces of the place I called my second home, and I took my memento: a soundtrack of The Simpson’s CD. I cried for days after the rink was diminished to rubble.
After that, I learned I was invisible. I went unnoticed by all unless someone needed a scapegoat. I felt extremely alone one day after coming in from recess. I hit the tether ball out of anger, and as I walked away, the ball and its tether wrapped around my neck several times, lifted me into the air, and spun me around the pole. No one noticed. I came into class looking like a victim of a strangling.
I moved to Utah with my family several years later, and thus began the newest chapter in my life. It had a rocky start. I was repeating the 6th grade because I wasn’t “advancing enough” when I finished the year in California. My mind never computed that it was not because I was dumb or unintelligent. As any 12-year-old prepubescent child would likely think, it was simply because I wasn’t good enough. I spent my free time sitting alone outside drawing the red mountains and scenery, and I had very few friends. Teachers began to worry, and I was enrolled in a program that met once a week discussing how to make friends. It was the group of individuals that didn’t fit in. The minority that were too awkward and weird to even bother with. And that’s how I transitioned into middle school.
I made a few friends that I kept very close to my heart, and I thought I had found my best friends in 8th grade. The three of us were inseparable, and we did everything together. We had the same interests, we shared the same hobbies, and we were always together causing our own form of trouble. However, my paradise was cut short my freshman year of high school. Two of the three individuals I called my best friends turned into different people.
I remember going to school my first day that year trying to talk to the two friends that were there. The third had moved up north. I blew it off as nothing when they didn’t talk to me the first week of school. We were all busy now that we had officially obtained our high school status. Then weeks went by and it was clear I was being avoided. I finally stopped my futile attempt at maintaining the relationship I had so obviously lost. What I didn’t realize was that the beginning of my high school hell was only starting. It started with a note slipped into my locker explaining the 8th grade friendship was a sham. They called me names and put me down, and to top it all off it was signed in blood. I had a nervous breakdown that day. But it had only started. Lunch was shortly after I obtained my note, and I made my way, alone, into the cafeteria. I was numb. I was alone. That day at lunch one of the two former friends decided it would be necessary to use me as a stepladder to boost his way up the social world. Football players surrounded me in a circle, and the friend stood behind the others. It had been officially announced as a day to disgrace me. To break my spirit. And that they did. They called me names, they made fun of the way I looked, they reassured me that I didn’t fit in, and I wouldn’t be fitting in my entire high school career, and that I just wasn’t “good enough.” I sat down on the floor and cried. It wasn’t until someone came over and helped me up to the school counselor that I would even move. I spent the rest of my day in her office.
My self-esteem tanked that day. Any remnant of self-esteem, self-concept or self-confidence tanked. I began to cut. I was depressed and suicidal. I even made it a regular occurrence to put my hands up to my throat and lean against the wall on my elbows to pass out. I took down every photo in my room and hid them in the bottom drawer of my dresser in fear that even looking at someone’s photo would cause a universal reaction and I would lose someone else the next day. I had no will to live, and it seemed like an impossible mission to drag my shell out of bed to go to school. After the friend moved back from up north, she forced me to re-evaluate my life. I think her exact words were, “I don’t want to come visit you in the hospital in one of those gowns where your butt hangs out the back!” If it wasn’t for her assistance, I don’t know where I’d be now.
So I threw my life into schooling. I learned German like it was my first language, and I went on to win numerous awards in competitions for my talent. I studied journalism and began to reinvent myself by forcing myself to go up to talk to individuals I didn’t know. I even won the Southwest Region Sterling Scholar in foreign language. From there I started my college career. I was determined to be a physical therapy assistant, that was until I learned I’d be working with cadavers. My goal suddenly became a mission to make a difference on campus. I wanted to help other students and excel in doing so. I worked my way up the ranks at the Dixie Sun, and I wrote about the hard stories. I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Mass Communication with an emphasis in print journalism. Since then I have graduated with my Master’s Degree in New Media Journalism.
I had some serious health problems my last few years of college, which led to problems within my own personal relationship. Thousands of dollars and one divorce later here I stand. The girl that desperately wants to be noticed. The girl that has waited years to have someone come up and tell me I’m beautiful. I stutter my way through conversations with people who I find attractive, and I don’t know if I will ever be the focus of anybody’s life. I want to travel with someone and share the real stories in places all over the world. I want to be the central focus in someone’s camera lens. I want to share who I am with someone who is willing to take me for exactly me. Will it happen? I don’t know. But I know this: Despite my struggles, I am grateful for who and what I stand for today. I look back at these experiences I’ve talked about and realized that even though it still haunts me, it gives me something to improve on. I will always be changing, and I will always be learning. It’s how I decide to tackle these situations in the near future.
Now I’m in a job I like at The Spectrum (www.thespectrum.com), and I’m working with amazing and inspiring people. I have no where to go but forward!
ST. GEORGE—The Gina Jrel Fine Art and Design Studio will unveil its dark side at the upcoming show titled “Ferocious Beauty” on October 13 from 7 to 10 p.m.
The show follows a three-year creative block and is drastically different from anything else she created in her 34 years of painting.
“Being able to paint is painful because it takes hours, but it is less pain than being in a creative block,” Jrel said. “It is a huge release and relief; it’s kind of like being set free again.
The series is inspired by her subconscious thoughts and highlights her meticulously rendered realism, poster-like stylization, and whimsical gesture lines. The paintings are predominantly black and white with only tiny splashes of colors to portray Jrel’s embrace of her dark side and her transition into the light.
Jrel said: “I think it’s my best body of work I’ve ever done. These paintings are really different and really raw. Just about everything about the painting and the creative process is different from I’ve ever done before.”
The show will also feature two other local artists: Matt Clark and Debra Proball.
“I like to partner with Matt to do shows for two reasons: first, I like working with him because he is a conceptual artist who uses symbolism, and, second, he’s a lot of fun to work with,” Jrel said
Clark, a contemporary sculptor, will reveal his latest collection titled “Dark Nights of the Soul.” His new works are a portrayal of the dark events in people’s lives that rock their souls, including pieces of depression, abuse, and death. Each sculpture symbolizes transcendence and overcoming these dark events that lead individuals back into the light.
Proball, a jewelry artist, will show her newest jewelry collection known as “Linking the Dark and Light.” The collection showcases black, white and silver jewelry made from carefully selected semi-precious stones.
The show is located in the 13th and Park Art Space at 459 North 1300 E. Suite 7 in St. George. “Ferocious Beauty” is a masquerade event, and individuals are encouraged to wear costumes and masks, but it is not required.
The NAMI organization, along with the Bring Change 2 Mind organization, formed fundraising walking events across the country in a mission to “combat the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness via a national communications campaign.” Myths and misinterpretations are consistently found about mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, somatoform disorders, schizophrenia, and many other illnesses, and both organizations provide resources, support, and information to assist in eliminating the stigma surrounding mental disorders.
NAMI is looking for volunteers to assist with the walks, donations for the event, and individuals to register for the NAMI Walks. Individuals can register online to walk in a Fall 2012 NAMI Walk. Individuals wanting to join a BC2M team can do so here. Fifty percent of funds raised by the BC2M teams will go to benefit the organization’s efforts in bringing awareness to family, friends, or other individuals who know someone with a mental illness.
Kayla Flanary considered herself as a normal individual before she started having unusual medical symptoms in middle school. Now Kayla carries the label of conversion disorder with her. Photo credit: Jessicality Photography
Imagine a time when you’ve felt sick. Now imagine doctors couldn’t find a biological reason for it. You know your body is experiencing real symptoms, but medical tests fail to prove it. What do you do next, and who can you turn to?
Being referred to specialist after specialist can be both exhausting and discouraging.
This is when many patients begin to doubt their own body and intuition. They quit searching for answers and become secluded. What these patients fail to realize is that it may not be a medical disease. Instead, the problem may fall under mental illness.
Conversion disorder, also known as hysterical neurosis and mass hysteria, is an illness where patients’ bodies are affected by neurological symptoms that cannot be found organically through medical testing. Again, it is speculated that individuals suffering from conversion disorder have an underlying emotional event that created such a psychological conflict that body and mind do not work together properly.
Kayla Flanary waits for her test to start to see if she has sleep apnea. Some patients with conversion disorder have difficulty with sleeping. Photo credit: Kayla Flanary
It is important to note that these patients are not making up their symptoms because that is qualified as malingering and factitious disorder and not conversion disorder. Symptoms usually appear suddenly and can cause a disturbance between voluntary bodily functions.
Symptoms can include conditions such as blindness, the inability to speak, numbness, paralysis, poor coordination, seizures or convulsions, and hallucinations. These symptoms appear as a way for the brain to cope with what it perceives as a threat.
Several cases of conversion disorder presented themselves in October 2011 when girls from Le Roy, New York began showing a variety of unexplained twitches, convulsions, and ticks.
The cases baffled doctors, but after further research, Dr. Jennifer McVige—a pediatric neurologist who saw 10 of the girls—determined that each girl had gone through a significant trauma that could start the disorder. The girls, McVige said, could have been unconsciously influencing the others by her own symptoms.
Dr. John Speed explains more about conversion disorder in his interview here:
Kayla Flanary shows her medical bracelet that she wears each day. Flanary’s conversion disorder can cause her to go into seizures, ticks, convulsions and more at any time, so it is important for her to have her bracelet.
“One day I was just sitting there in science, and my lab partner thought I’d fallen asleep,” said Kayla Flanary, a 19-year-old from Salem, Ore. “The bell rang, and everyone left. My teacher tried to wake me up, but I just passed out and fell on the floor. I woke up on the ground and wondered what I was doing. The school administrators put me in a wheelchair, and then they accused me of not eating.”
Eating was not the problem for Flanary. She later had an episode while on a church youth event while going through a cave.
She said: “We were in a cave, and I got really dizzy really quick. We sat down on
these rocks inside, and all of a sudden I turned really pale and quit breathing. My youth minister started screaming for someone as I started convulsing. They literally had to carry me out of the cave. The only thing I remember is waking up on a backboard with a neck brace in a panic.”
Kayla Flanary collected her medical bracelets from her hospital visits in 2007. Flanary continues to collect her hospital bracelets as a journal of her medical history. Photo credit: Kayla Flanary
It took about a year to officially be diagnosed with conversion disorder after her second episode. Flanary had received a referral to a local neurologist who told Kayla’s mother she was acting this way for attention and that whatever was going on was “all in her head.”
Whenever Flanary would have an episode, people would ask her what was going on.
“I would say: I don’t know. We think it might be this, or we think it might be that. I don’t care at this point! I just wanted a diagnosis that I could explain to people and tell them what I have instead of saying I don’t know,” Kayla said.
Once she received her diagnosis, she began to cry. The doctor asked her why she was so upset, and Flanary responded that she was not upset, but she was happy. She knew they could finally start moving toward a treatment plan.
Kayla Flanary shows her swollen lip after a seizure. Flanary suffers from non-epileptic seizures. Photo credit: Kayla Flanary
Hilarie Folk, a 50-year-old from Milbank, S.D., received her conversion disorder diagnosis in July 2009 after 24 years. Folk’s conversion disorder started shortly after she gave birth to her twin daughters while living with an abusive ex-husband. She also suffered from Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
“I had non-epileptic seizures shortly after they [the twins] were born due to emotional and physical abuse,” Folk said. “The Navy doctors didn’t know what was going on with me; I had several doctors think I was faking my illness for years. Even my second ex-husband, Jerry, thought I was crazy.”
Folk experienced seizures, headaches, paralysis, numbness, tingling sensations, slurring of her speech, and an inability to swallow. She went to more than 30 doctors searching for a diagnosis, and each time doctors, friends and family assumed she was doing drugs or making herself sick for attention.
“They said I was being selfish and an attention-getter,” Folk said. “I was furious!”
Kayla Flanary wears a CPAP mask and a chin mask when she goes to bed. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure and is used to treat sleep apnea. Photo credit: Kayla Flanary
Folk spent a lot of time in hospitals for physical, occupational and speech therapy. She had to learn how to walk, talk and function again. Then she was rushed to the hospital after she collapsed.
“I was in [the hospital] for a couple days when the doctor told me I had CD,” she said. “I was in shock, and so was my husband. I was relieved to know I wasn’t totally crazy. A couple days later I was transferred to a mental health facility and was taken care of while I learned more about my disorder.”
Folk started hypnotherapy treatment in March. The first session consisted of finding a common thread that worked for both Folk and her therapist, Folk’s history, and some mild meditation and hypnotic therapy.
“She would give me suggestions of feeling safe in an angel or saint’s arms, and they would be calming and reassuring, and it helped me so much,” Folk said. “It comforts me in a way I can’t describe; it works. She is amazed with my progress, and so is everyone else that has seen the change in me. I have worked hard, and I will continue to work hard.”
Folk also took medications to try to help her conversion disorder. Her conversion disorder went into remission on June 28.
“The advice I would give is to learn, learn and learn because the more we know about our illness, the more we can help with our recovery,” Folk said.
Folk also had advice for individuals going through conversion disorder.
“I would wash my hands of those who don’t feel it’s real, or that we are faking it,” Folk said. “As hard as it would be, it is worth keeping them at bay for your health. Educate them when they are ready to listen.”
What is a somatization disorder?
A brief overview of the four types of somatoform disorders. Information provided by http://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/1101/p1333.html. Infographic compiled by Casie Forbes.
Conversion disorder falls under the category of somatization disorders, which are chronic illness where a patient shows signs of physical symptoms, but there are no organic or physiological causes found for the symptoms. These disorders are most often found in women before age 30, and often it is in conjunction with another mental health problem such as depression or anxiety. There are four somatoform disorders: body dysmorphic disorder, conversion disorder, hypochondriasis and pain disorder.
The initial cause of somatization disorders is still unknown, but it is speculated that having existing conditions such as depression and anxiety or after a significantly stressful and emotional event can cause it. As a result, patients go through a myriad of symptoms, including gastrointestinal problems, pain, pseudoneurological problems and sexual dysfunctions.
According to doctors Oliver Oyama, Catherine Paltoo and Julian Greengold, patients living with somatization disorders go through significant emotional distress.
“Treatment success can be enhanced by discussing the possibility of a somatoform disorder with the patient early in the evaluation process, limiting unnecessary diagnostic and medical treatments,” wrote Oyama, Paltoo and Greengold.
Most frequently patients will go through medical testing before coming into contact with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or neuropsychologist. As a result, some patients go through an onslaught of X-rays, MRIs, CAT Scans, EEGs, EMGs, blood work and consistent changes in medications.
Treatment and Management
Kayla Flanary tried acupuncture to relieve some of her conversion disorder symptoms. Photo credit: Kayla Flanary
There are a few options when deciding on a treatment for somatoform disorders.
One mode of treatment is counseling and psychotherapy. Talking about a stressful event with a counselor specializing in conversion disorder can assist patients in learning how to consciously and subconsciously deal with physical symptoms.
According to Maria Borowski, “Continued work to learn how to deal with stressors throughout life will also be important, as about 25 percent of patients with these disorders often have future episodes.”
A second option is pharmacological therapy. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can treat underlying conditions. The conversion disorder could possibly improve, but it depends on each individual.
Hypnosis, although unconventional, can be used by trained experts to resolve subconscious psychological problems within patients with conversion disorder; usually this is a treatment done alongside another form of psychotherapy.
“The most helpful approach may involve collaboration of a primary care doctor with a psychiatrist and a doctor from another field, such as a neurologist or internist,” according to the Merck manual.
Proposed revisions to the fifth edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” which is scheduled to print in May 2013, have many people with mental illnesses scrambling to submit feedback.
The American Psychiatric Association list the rationale for each proposed revision to the conversion disorder entry for the DSM-5. Screenshot taken from www.DSM5.org
The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association, and its most current version, the DSM-4, was printed in 1994. The manual serves as a diagnostic tool for mental health professionals in diagnosing and treating patients with mental disorders.
According to DSM5.org, “These criteria for diagnosis provide a common language among clinicians. By clearly defining the criteria for a mental disorder, DSM helps to ensure that a diagnosis is both accurate and consistent.”
One proposed revision to the DSM-5 is to entry of Conversion Disorder, which is a somatic symptom disorder.
Including the name Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder, or FNSD.
Removing the need for psychological factors.
Removal of previous criterion that symptoms are not intentionally being produced or feigned.
Bridget Mildon, the founder of the non-profit group FND Hope, said there are other revisions that should also be included:
“If someone doesn’t put enough anxiety into being sick, they are diagnosed with ‘la belle indifference’; however, now if there is too much anxiety it is another diagnosable illness,” she said. “This criterion is obviously being written by people that have little understanding of the frustration of this type of disorder of unknown causes.”
In addition, Mildon said the severity of physical disabilities regarding conversion disorder is not being recognized enough.
“This has severe impact on the social services that patients are receiving,” Mildon said. “Many are not receiving the benefits and services that are available to other disabled people because of the lack of clarification that this disorder has.”
Individuals who are diagnosed with conversion disorder, or those who know someone with CD, are many of the individuals signing the FND Hope petition. The petition closes on June 1, and will be submitted to the APA on June 15. Screenshot taken from www.FNDhope.org
Mildon wrote a petition that is open until June 1. She will be sending the signed petition to the APA board and the Somatic Work Group before the June 15 deadline.
“The APA Board has a real opportunity to provide a clearer and more accurate definition that would inform and assist clinicians and patients in their quest for appropriate and effective treatment strategies,” she said.
Washington County residents donated more than $1,700 through the silent auction held April 6, 2012. Artist Gina Jrel plans to make this event an annual activity open to art lovers of all ages. Casie Forbes/Freelance Journalist
A collection of individuals and businesses volunteered their time and efforts this year in building, refurbishing and designing chairs that were auctioned off during the event to raise money for the UFCF.
“I have had a long-standing, strong commitment to use my artwork for purposes that make a positive difference in the world I live in,” Jrel said. “I have been partnered with the Utah Foster Care Foundation for many years through their chalk art festivals,
and I have gotten to know the people who run that organization. I was so impressed with their commitment and passion, and I believe strongly in their cause.”
The UFCF is a non-profit agency with a mission to recruit, educate and support foster families to meet the needs of children within the foster care system, said Debbie Hofhines, the UFCF Southwest Region representative.
“Our contracted funds do not stretch far enough to support families who are already sacrificing much to meet the needs of traumatized and hurt children,” Hofhines said. “Due to state budget constraints, resource families are not paid as much as they deserve.”
This chair, created by Elan Women Magazine, was donated to the CHAIR-ity event as part of its silent auction. Casie Forbes/Freelance Journalist
Mike Hamblin, the UFCF director of foster family recruitment, said the financial support received from the state isn’t able to cover some opportunities that help children in foster care heal.
Hamblin said: “Perhaps the greatest thing donations can help with is what children in foster care need most. Donations can help us reach out to members of the community and find families to care for, love, and nurture children in foster care. Families that can help children heal as their own families work to make home a safe place to return to.”
Jrel extended a personal invitation to those within the Washington County area to attend and donate funds to help place Utah’s children in need of foster homes. The event, held April 6, raised more than $1,700 this year. This total didn’t include the cost of prizes and time donated by various businesses and individuals within the area. Jrel said she hopes the community will attend future events.
“To meet the end goal we need the public to do their part, show up at the event, whip out their kind hearts and wallets, and bid on their favorite chair(s),” Jrel said. “The concept is not new, but I liked it a lot, and I knew it had never been done down here. I thought it would be an awesome way to help a charity of choice and get the public’s creative juices involved and flowing!”
Although next year’s theme has not yet been determined, individuals and businesses can start creating chairs for the second annual event or log on to the UFCF website to make a donation.
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Starting off as a new freelance journalist, writer, photographer, or videographer can be an exciting experience, but it can quickly turn sour if freelancers don’t take certain precautions.
It is obvious that experience will ultimately teach a freelancer valuable lessons, but there are ways around learning the hard way. One such lesson is who owns the rights to the copyrighted works that are produced.
According to the U.S. Copyright Office: “Under the copyright law, the creator of the original expression in a work is its author. The author is also the owner of copyright unless there is a written agreement by which the author assigns the copyright to another person or entity, such as a publisher. In cases of works made for hire, the employer or commissioning party is considered to be the author.”
Journalists are taught these basic copyright laws along with the differences between the types of ownerships, but those who are self-taught may or may not know how to protect themselves against companies, publishers, or people who are looking to exploit the author’s works.
One area to be aware of is works-for-hire. According to the Professional Artists League, “Work-for-hire grants authorship and ownership of the work produced to the individual or company (hiring party) who commissioned the work.”
In order for a work to be considered a work-for-hire, it must meet two criteria: first, there must be a written agreement explicitly stating that the work being done is a work-for-hire, and second, both the creator and the person commissioning the work that is created have signed an agreement.
Some contractors might wonder why this is so important; it is important so that both the person(s) commissioning the works and the contractor hired to do the works are absolutely clear on what he or she is expected to do and what he or she is getting in the deal so both parties are legally protected if something goes awry.
Journalist Gus Koernig, a Mesa, Ariz. resident, has spent the last 46 years working as a freelance journalist, and many of his jobs have been works-for-hire.
“My advice is probably born out of experiences where I got exploited,” Koernig said. “[Right out of school] you’re desperate and you want some work. Don’t loose sight of the fact you have a commodity that is valued by employers.”
Koernig recalled times where he did work-for-hire projects where he was paid much less than he said he should have because he needed work.
“I did a lot of stuff for less than half of minimum wage for a website,” Koernig said. “My daughter finally said, ‘you have to get off that website because you’re giving away your talent.’”
Koernig said a lesson freelance journalists should learn is that the clients individuals want to work for are those more interested in quality and not cost. He said, “Clients that are shopping for price usually are pains in the neck as clients because they want the moon and stars for very little money.
To prevent rate problems, or to find out more about work-for-hire, Koernig suggested going online to see the rates within a freelancer’s specific area. The Writer’s Market is also a book Koernig suggests for those looking for work and rates.
“The Writer’s market gives you a good range of pricing; I think The Writer’s Market is hugely valuable,” Koernig said.
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A patient walking into a medical office expects a certain amount of privacy regarding his or her records, but there are instances where this privacy is invaded.
Doctors swear to the Oath of Hippocrates, which states, “…whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession…I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets.” With such an oath comes an understanding between a doctor and a patient that there is some form of confidentiality included with his or her medical records, and that the records will not be released or disclosed without the patient’s permission.
According to the Washington Post Magazine, “Millions of individual medical records float around these days in a vast electronic network that serves both commerce and scientific research…Some of the records are even available through the Internet, part of a $40 billion medical information industry.”
When medical records are released without the permission of a patient, patients can possibly be harmed or lose the trust of the medical facility in which the breach takes place. In some instances, patients can have serious setbacks in treatment. However, the invasion of privacy can reach out to insurance companies as well.
New York Daily News reporter Karen Angel wrote that in her search for a health insurance plan, BlueCross Blue Shield emailed Angel someone else’s application. Angel explained the incorrect application was for another woman with the first name Karen, but nothing else was in common. The women were from two different states, two different Social Security numbers, and more. However, the incorrect application being sent to Angel was a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as well as an invasion of privacy.
There are instances where some patients are willing to have their medical records shared with outside sources.
Ashley Bell, a nursing aide at the Oregon Department of Human Services, said: “The doctors in the clinic my husband and I go to work in teams of four to six, and they talk to the other doctors to get input. I think it’s fine because it’s always nice to get an outsider’s prospective on how to better treat a patient.”
Bell said she didn’t see an issue of doctors within the same facility or clinic sharing medical records, but if it is outside of the same medical facility, a doctor should make a patient aware of it.
“If a patient isn’t comfortable with the sharing of information,” Bell said, “the patient can tell the doctors not to share the information, or the patient could find a different clinic.”
In 2003 the HIPAA was set in place. The HIPAA is the national standard for the privacy of health information, according to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. The act allows patients to access his or her records at any time, and helps protect patients against invasions of privacy. Even with the HIPAA, patients need to take extra steps to prevent any invasions of privacy. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse provides some suggestions for patients:
Discuss concerns of confidentiality with the doctor.
Ask health care providers to take extra precautions when making any photocopies.
Don’t be so quick to fill out marketing-related questionnaires.
Be careful not to divulge health information on health-related websites.