I've talked with a lot of people about the potential for social media in the emerging continuing professional development for healthcare professionals, and while everyone seems interested, I haven't found many who have figured out what to do with it. Then today I ran across this example that just blew me away in the speech/language field (thanks to the good folks at SocialFish for the link! If you are interested in the type of open community described below, read their book, Open Community).
A speech and language therapist posts about how she wasn't really getting into Twitter until she stumbled on someone related to the speech therapy field and began to see how she could get some value from those 140-character tweets as she grew her follow list. She says, "Most importantly I started to meet speech therapists/pathologists from all over the world. They were only a few at first, but this number started to gradually, then quickly increase over the next months. We shared our experiences, talked about our lives, our practices, patients, offered ideas, asked questions, and it made the community more real, more like a family. Here were these people all over the world who had never met, only sharing the same profession (or passion I would call it), coming together to talk, while waiting for a patient to show up, waiting in traffic, cooking dinner for family, even while in labour! This was the new face of speech therapy. Then Bob Bateman (@speechbob) showed his creative genius and came up with the term #slpeeps. This was a perfect description of us. Now any SLT(P) who joined twitter could use this hashtag to find us all, and we could use it to speak directly to our community."
This group attracted the attention of its industry associations and organization, which she says "has contributed significantly to our professional development. We’re able to discuss topics of interest, share info on new research and resources, and we have somewhere to turn and bounce ideas off of when we have absolutely no idea what to do with a patient. It is guaranteed that if you present a case to the #slpeeps you will get some feedback, sometimes within minutes. SLPs-to-be are also an active part of the community, something I wish I had while in grad school.
And now they've created a "goal bank," "shared resource links" page, and a "resource share" folder in Google Docs, which, she says, "is developing well and is already gaining worldwide recognition across SLT networks."
Also, thanks to SocialFish for pointing out the fantastic Social Media Toolkit for Physicians, Office Staff and Patients, created by the Ohio State Medical Association. It's a really useful resource for anyone in the healthcare arena who's interested in social media.