A tale of two cities: Born in Dofteana, Romania – ‘Unstoppable’ in Salford, UK

Categories: School of Health and Society

Today is International Women's Day, and we are proud to celebrate by sharing the story of Dr Cristina Vasilica, Reader in Digital Health and Head of Digital Education.

Cristina is a home-grown academic, with several years of industry experience.

She started her journey at Salford in 2006 as an international undergraduate, studying Business Information Technology and joined the School of Health and Society in 2009 as an Associate on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership project.

In 2022, Cristina was promoted to a Reader in Digital Health and started a new leadership role in Digital Education.

Passionate about digital technology and its ability to empower social mobility, innovation, and impact, she has worked towards becoming a recognised international leader in digital health.

She worked towards digital innovation in healthcare, the provision of novel learning approaches and workforce development delivering on several projects.

Digital health engagement remains a leading factor in the process of increasing the capacity of patients, carers, families, and health providers through active involvement in their own health.

Cristina co-designed the award-winning Kidney Information Network @GMKINet, an online community for renal patients to access information and peer support. 

This continues to have a positive impact on patients’ lives.

One patient told us: “From a personal perspective, Cristina turned my life around when she invited me to be a participant in her initial research. My life moved from one of self-isolation and depression to full time employment.”

Through her work in digital engagement, Cristina recognised that digital skills and capabilities are an important pillar of digital health engagement.

She corroborated research evidence, personal expertise with local, national, and global strategy to initiate the University of Salford Digital Skills Passport (DiSkPassTM).

The scheme uses student-centered instructional techniques to provide students with the capabilities and attitudes they need to work in a digital care environment.

Recently, DiSkPassTM has been shortlisted in the ‘Teaching Innovation of the Year’ category at the national Student Nursing Times Awards.

Cristina is keen to expand her digital health portfolio through exploring novel pedagogical approaches utilising digital and emerging technologies to inform better engagement with technology and digital readiness.

Cristina said: “I arrived in UK in 2004 without speaking English. It wasn’t always a smooth journey but the passion to ‘make a difference’ and the people who supported my work and ideas always acted as a light.

“I am a strong believer that digital technology, digital capabilities, and positive social capital are critical to the future well-being of our society. I hope that our work in the University builds capacity in digital health and inspire future generations of students to find ‘their spark’ and harness digital innovation for social good.”

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