I discovered #OTalk2US and #OTalk while completing an article I was writing for another informal OT peer to peer website. I collected and organized roughly 200+ OT Twitter accounts by practice area such as pediatrics, mental health, and general advocacy. Certainly, there are thousands more, however, I focused on accounts that were topic specific or subject related. Since, I have participated in collecting and organizing OT podcasts and YouTube accounts, and most recently, a general (non-academic) OT-book-authors–list using online platforms. These are examples of social media for informal professional networking and growth.
In 2011, Giordano & Giordano found that online media was becoming a “primary source of information” for health professional students including occupational therapists. At the time, Facebook was the primary platform. Since 2011, Facebook has plateaued in second place to YouTube while Twitter and particularly Instagram are gaining users (Smith & Anderson, 2018). However, in addition to primary social media platforms include broadly, the general internet and digital based resources such as OT run websites, podcasts, and blogs.
Though social media and internet sources may not replace peer-reviewed research, it can certainly be a peer-reviewed discussion and lead occupational therapists to evidence-based practice material. Occupational therapy is an evidence-based and science-driven profession; yet, there is far more to engaging evidence than following directions. Professional growth involves ongoing discussion, professional engagement, and informal sources while online platforms can support this professional growth positively (Ranieri, Manca, & Fini, 2012).
The digital age that we live in today, allows us to engage with professional peers from across the nation on a casual Sunday evening (#OTALK2US), or across the globe on a Tuesday mid-day (#OTALK). Bodell & Hook (2011) described Facebook as a “Modern-day essential” for “developing diverse, low density networks free of charge and with reduced cost in terms of time effort” with occupational therapy professionals. In another study, Bodell & Hook (2014) found that educating incoming students on professional uses for social media could support “professional networks and facilitate continuing professional development (CPD).” However, Murray & Ward (2017) found “willingness to use social media within CPD” is not dependent upon age.
From sharing book collections and starting journal clubs to discussing AOTA mandates, social media platforms and online sources have an important role in the communication of occupational therapists. Other reported uses include; communicating with members and promotion (Hamilton et al., 2016). A qualitative mixed-methods study by Grant (2018), found that internationally, occupational therapists valued the non-profit informal online platform TheOTHub because it provided an online community and network opportunities with ithe most visited page being Resources + Services: Specialisms. The Facebook page OT4OT (occupational therapy 4 occupational therapy) includes nearly 23,000 members with 47 sub-groups of which the member page of MH4OT (mental health 4 occupational therapy) remains the largest at 9,000+ members. Social media and internet sources offer an organic peer-to-peer professional growth, that Greenhalgh, Robert, and Macfarlane (2004), define as “pure-diffusion” or in other-words, a less structured (horizontal) rather than more structured (vertical), growth. This pure-diffusion was found applicable to occupational therapy by Hamilton et al., (2016).
Vaguely, people prefer different platforms while others feel they need to take a break from social media as the plateau in Facebook use has indicated. There is a significant discrepancy in un-used potential for occupational therapists on social media to engage peers as Wong (2018) found with influence comparison in his poster Advocacy in Digital Influencer Era for Occupational Therapy Students and Practitioners.
This talk is not themed about how to reach a greater audience, self-promote, or use social media more; but rather how those of you who participate can use social media and internet sources practically and professionally.
Broadly, the theme of this discussion is: how does social media and internet platforms impact your professional life practically and what resources have been most helpful?
- Q1: What communities of practice do you use for Professional Networking? (Examples include; National, state, local, lunch meetings informal, social media)
- Q2: What ways have you used social media for professional growth?
- Q3: In what practical ways have online digital resources informed your OT practice?
- Q4: What barriers do you experience with social media use or internet sources?
- Q5: In what ways can we be more inclusive of intergenerational, international, and interprofessional (PT, nursing, social workers) collaboration?
Also, if you are interested in contributing to a research project of what impact participating in these twitter talks has had for you, consider completing this survey:
- Bodell, S., & Hook, A. (2011). Using Facebook for professional networking: a modern-day essential. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74(12), 588-590.
- Bodell, S., & Hook, A. (2014). Developing online professional networks for undergraduate occupational therapy students: an evaluation of an extracurricular facilitated blended learning package. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 77(6), 320-323.
- Giordano, C., & Giordano, C. (2011). Health professions students’ use of social media. Journal of allied health, 40(2), 78-81
- Greenhalgh T, Robert G, Macfarlane F, et al. Diffusion of innovations in service organizations: systematic review and recommendations. Milbank Q 2004; 82(4): 581629.
- Grant, J. (2018). What are the benefits, limitations and potential of The OT Hub for occupational therapy? Research supporting the development of a new online platform for the profession. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from www.theOTHub.com/research-portal [Accessed 2/9/18]
- Hamilton, A. L., Burwash, S. C., Penman, M., Jacobs, K., Hook, A., Bodell, S., … & Pattison, M. (2016). Making connections and promoting the profession: Social media use by World Federation of Occupational Therapists member organisations. Digital Health, 2, 2055207616653844.
- Murray, K., & Ward, K. (2017). Attitudes to social media use as a platform for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) within occupational therapy. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 1-15.
- Ranieri, M., Manca, S., & Fini, A. (2012). Why (and how) do teachers engage in social networks? An exploratory study of professional use of Facebook and its implications for lifelong learning. British journal of educational technology, 43(5), 754-769.
- Smith, A., & Anderson, M. (2018, March 1) Social Media Use in 2018. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/
- Wong, B. (2018, April). Advocacy in Digital Influencer Era for Occupational Therapy Students and Practitioners. Poster session at the annual meeting of American Occupational Therapy Association, Salt Lake City, UT.