At the beginning….
I had always said I didn’t get Twitter. I had nothing to say and it was just full of endless ramblings. But my husband, a medic, used it and had made a lot of useful connections as a result. So just over a year ago he persuaded me to join, on what I thought at the time was the daft notion of it being a useful tool for CPD.
At this time I was just starting my own business as a mobile physio in a new location, having had a short career break. Discussing clinical topics with my former colleagues often left me feeling like an outsider in the current thinking of physiotherapy. I no longer had departmental in-service training, feedback from courses, courses of my own to attend, or staff room discussions. I needed some easy (and cheap!) CPD…
…And now I have it. I found it surprising how many physios were on Twitter tweeting in a professional capacity, and that number appears to have grown in the short time I have been using it. I participated in a few discussions and discovered lots of articles and blogs (with links to even more articles and opinions) which I had never accessed in a busy NHS department. I could even see the latest thoughts of internationally renowned physios such as Tim Watson (@ElectroTim) and Alison Grimaldi (@alisongrimaldi).
I have ducked in and out of Twitter over the months. I still don’t say a lot, mainly because I feel the chance of any of my small amount of followers seeing it is slim, but I do find being able to interact with physios from across the UK and in various political roles exciting. Recently I had contact with the HCPC (@the_HCPC) about a subject mentioned in Frontline that I would otherwise have just moaned about. They responded and took my point on board.
At times I found Twitter overwhelming but as I’ve learnt more about it I’m finding it more user-friendly. I regularly favourite tweets so I can come back to the articles they link to in my own time and now I’ve discovered Lists so I can find interesting tweets from physios whenever I like without being constantly logged on. Hashtags are also brilliant to catch up with Twitter, such as #lifeasaphysio and now of course, #physiotalk. I have also started a weekly reflective diary so everything I do/learn on Twitter, Facebook and iCSP gets added to that and I can do it all when it’s convenient for me.
I admit that I still class myself much as a “lurker”, not often joining in conversations. I don’t yet have the confidence to interact (particularly in 140 characters) and there are a lot of physios out there who really know their stuff! I love to learn from them so I’m much more comfortable listening for the time being. Having said that, I am aiming to interact more and hopefully that will build up my followers and enable me to ask questions and get replies and start discussions. I had believed you needed to “talk” on Twitter in real time and I wasn’t always able to do that, but now I’ve learnt there is no time limit in a Twitter conversation!
I’m also learning the business benefits of Twitter. During a recent #physiotalk chat there was discussion about whether to have a personal and a separate professional account. I have a personal account that I use for physio topics, local events and sport news. Then there is a separate account for the business. In the Spring I joined forces with another tweeting physio, @dallasnewton, to set up a physio clinic. We have a Twitter account (@NYorksPhysio) which although is a slow burner, is gradually making us contacts. The use of #hours (eg. #yorkshirehour,) where local businesses network on Twitter, has been very useful.
Before I began on Twitter I set up a local CPD group to discuss EBP and interact with other physios. Now I find I am using Twitter for that much more and the CPD group is evolving into a practical skills session. I have tried to encourage our group members to join Twitter but without much success! They’re nervous of it so now I am directing them to the #physiotalk resources to get started.
As more or less a lone worker I find Twitter invaluable now. I’m still learning how to get the most from it and I’m finding you don’t have to be logged on constantly to find it effective. I have wondered for a while if we could do a journal club on Twitter (as OTs are successfully running through #OTalk). This is something I am working on with Naomi and Janet, so watch this space over the next couple of months.
So don’t be nervous of Twitter, embrace it, gradually learn about it and soon you’ll see the benefits. Have fun!
Kate Bye @Katebye