Monday, January 31, 2011

Can OTs afford NOT to engage in social media?

While I know my use of tweeting, blogging, and Facebook is nascent compared to those in other fields, I am always struck by how the representation of the OT community is still relatively small in the world of social media. There are certainly individual OTs who are effectively using blog sites, Twitter, and other sites to convey information about their work and experience in OT. Even our professional association such as AOTA and BAOTCOT are increasingly on Facebook and Twitter. But I would still expect that OTs use of social media as a profession lags behind many others. I have often wondered why this is, because for a profession that often cites "lack of public awareness" as one of its challenges, the electronic world of social media seems full of potential. When I read Kevin Levin's post urging teachers to consider the use of social media, it really resonated with me in thinking about OT and social media. He said if nothing else, social media enables educators to build an audience. That is EXACTLY what OT needs - a way to build an audience!!!! OTs have so much to contribute to the public sphere - a truly unique perspective about participation in meaningful occupations, fostering typical development in children, life transitions for patients and families, aging in place, caregiver issues, community participation, accessibility of community events...just to name a few! Understandably, OTs may be concerned about issues related to anonymity in using social media. But as we all build more robust digital lives, I think the issues of anonymity is less of a concern. However, it is important to be mindful of mixing completely personal information with professional information on the same site. Just as in all face to face interactions, it is critical to maintain anonymity of patients and be cautious when referring to any specific case or person. And certainly as health care professionals, there is a definite responsibility to only write or comment about things that are in the scope of practice for OT and generally applicable to the public. Kevin Pho, a leading physician in the arena of social media, posted theses strategies on his blog site for health care professionals interested in social media. Given the possbilities afforded with effective use of social media and OTs ongoing need to build public awareness all that OT has to offer, the question that is becoming increasingly vital is...can OTs afford NOT to engage in social media? What do you think?


  1. Great post Bridgett, I wonder if we should have a mandatory course of online marketing in occupational therapy programs and teach students not only why to market the profession, but HOW! Online social technologies have given us an effective option, and yes it can be overwhelming, but if we don't get on board the online "freight train" our profession will be well and truly left behind! If your blog followers want more information about the what and how of online social networking they can visit the OT4OT wiki and read about each of the different tools and how they are used in occupational therapy. Here's the link:
    Cheers, Anita

  2. i was recently at an Independent practititoners conference in the UK, where one of the workshops was social media. I think the problem is that O.T's don't understand how to use this which puts people off, however i agree that we need to be doing this if not for ourselves for our profession. i have really enjoyed some of the lively debates and discussions on linked in and it has connected me with people all over the world i would not have neccessarily come into contact with without social media

    Zoe Cocksedge
    Cornwall Independent Occupational Therapy Services