The Climb !

What sort of music do you like ?

I’m not talking the music you put on when friends come over, or the sort of music you listen to with a loved one …. I’m talking about the music you listen to when no one else is listening ! What do you sing at the top of your voice to in the car ? What music to you listen to via your earphones ?

Me – I like really cheesy music ! I’m talking Wham, Take That and, yes, even Steps !!! (OK maybe not Steps!) I love running to really cheesy music, I love singing along in my car and I love zoning out with my ear phones to some utter cheese.  It was whilst running and listening to some of the aforementioned cheese and reflecting on a twitter conversation about success and failure that Joe McCeldry came on …. The Climb !! Not heard it ?? Here it is:

… no there really is no need to thank me !

It may very well be utter cheese tied up in a cheese string … however the message is fab … keep going, its the climb that matters, keep chasing the dream, keep on going.

When we have ours heads down and are working hard though I think we sometimes forget some essentials – we forget how important it is to have strong foundations, to gather support and to look around when we need inspiration to keep going.  We also forget to take a rest and to take time out to look after ourselves.  In addition to this it’s hard to remember that when we fall, or get things wrong … thats ok … this is sometimes when we learn the most.  It’s ok at these time to stop and reflect and maybe start again on a different path.  Picking ourselves back up can be hard but determination to keep going, keep putting the effort in and keep on climbing is paramount … as is the continued support of others.

And what happens when we get there ? Well in reality we keep on going and we head for the next mountain, the next challenge or even the next cheesy song ….but, my advice is to take time to enjoy the view. Look around, see how far you have come … take time to celebrate and smile.  And above all don’t forget to share your climb with others !

Who’d have thought cheesy music could lead to so much … and there’s more: here’s a rather dodgy load of stick men to illustrate my point ;D

the climb

#NonListedButHighlyRecommended NursingTwitterFollows

I like a good list …. in fact I start every day with a to do list, it’s one of the reasons why i still have a paper diary (yes i can hear you gasping!) I like to be able to see clearly what I am doing and it gives me great satisfaction to cross things off.  I am also a big fan of shopping lists … now these ones i do write on my phones notes section, a shopping list, to me, is a vital thing that prevents me from aimlessly wandering around Asda , it saves me time and it means that I always remember to buy dog food.

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I quite like Twitter lists .. they allow me to organise my Twitter follows into sub groups and bypass a lot of Twitter noise.  Twitter lists are very useful indeed. But this is about as far as my love of lists goes …. and I have to admit that I very much dislike (even hate!) those hierarchical lists that seem to periodically make the rounds on social media.  You know the ones … the top 20 nurses, the top 100 healthcare tweeters, the most powerful 100 people in healthcare (ok so perhaps these aren’t the correct titles .. but you know the ones I mean)

I’m not a big fan of them for multiple reasons:

  • Often the methodology behind them is not revealed
  • When the methodology is revealed it is often flawed
  • They place hierarchies in high esteem – when there are many of us striving for a flatter world
  • I think that these lists are not really in the spirit of social media … where any connection with any person can add value

I wholeheartedly believe that connections made through peer recommendation is infinitely more powerful that a list generated through some computer algorithm  .. so a few weeks ago I asked people for their top nursing follows on Twitter.  I am calling it The “Non Listed But Highly Recommended Nursing Twitter Follows” its a catchy title and can even be hashtagged :

#NonListedButHighlyRecommendedNursingTwitterFollows

… snappy hey :D

So here they are (in no particular order or ranking and for no other reason than others have recommended, and presented in live embedded tweets so easy to follow) …. there were a few new and great follows here for me too, so I hope you all enjoy connecting as much as I have:

Of course the great thing about great lists .. and even non-lists …is that they can always be added to …. so please feel free to add to this one in the comments box.

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New year – old thinking ?

New year is typically a time for reflection and I am afraid to say that I am very much reverting to type with the advent of 2017 …. more by luck than design I have found myself exploring some “old” thinking around social media and nursing. Over the New Year period I have re-discovered two things that have had an impact on my thinking ….

This first thing I came across was whilst attempting to put pen to paper to write a journal article; I found myself thinking of a paper by Caleb Fergusson, written way back in 2013 “It’s time for the nursing profession to leverage social media” I remember reading it at the time and thinking that it was a bit harsh … that nurses are leveraging social media … however having re-read and some 4 years on I find myself agreeing with Caleb.  Nurses are here and using social media, but it’s in fits and spurts across the profession, there is so much potential, there are pockets of brilliance … but so much more can be done.

The second thing was sent to me by my husband and is a power point presentation that I created when I first started tweeting back in 2011:

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(Click here > is-anybody-out-there to view)

The power point was the first thing i ever created, that put my thoughts down on paper, and was written pre #WeNurses. I remember being quite nervous about doing it … it’s a scary thing to share an idea with the universe! Looking back at it now has made me realise how far we have come and what we have achieved with a bit of vision and a healthy dose of courage.

The two things together seem to contradict each other … how can we on one hand be needing to get to grips with truly unlocking the potential of social media whilst on the other seeing and acknowledging how far we have come …. my thoughts are that we have to remember that this is a journey! In the words of the (maybe) awesome Take That (which happens to be playing on the radio as i write this blog):

“We’ve come so far and we’ve reached so high
And we’ve looked each day and night in the eye
And we’re still so young and we hope for more”

Social media in nursing is still a youngster, we have achieved so much … but there is still so much to do.  And in the words of my own power point “Nurses can make it happen”

Lets make social media work for us – lets use social media to inform our practice, lets use social media as part of our practice, lets use social media to share our practice and lets use social media to celebrate our practice.  We may be young …. but lets hope, and work, for more.

Getting Political (Big “P”)

Oh my it’s been a while since I last blogged !!! It’s not because I have had nothing to say but rather that so much has been going on that I just haven’t had the time to put  pen to paper.  I thought about perhaps doing another series of Vlogs and then realised that this almost takes as much time as typing as I need to ensure that my hair is in some sort of presentable state …. maybe a series of podcasts is worth considering ?? Anyway … I’m rambling …. let me get to the point :

commonsA few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to the Houses Of Parliament for an event that celebrated the Petitions Committee “A Year Of Action” It was a fascinating event and it was really lovely to be joined by Student Nurses Hannah Smith (Salford University) and Julie Woolman (Plymouth University).  The reason we were invited was due to a #WeNurses discussion that was held back in January around the NHS Bursaries, the discussion was held in conjunction with a London South Bank University live debate and we then fed back about the debate and the Twitter discussion at a Houses Of Parliament round table event.  This in turn informed the House Of Commons debate on the NHS Bursaries and we were able to watch this debate live.  The initial discussion came to the forefront because of a petition that was started and although, in the end, the petition did not result in the Government changing the plans to stop the NHS Bursaries but it was interesting to see how nurses can have an impact on what goes on in Westminster.

So what I did learn from the event last week?  I learnt how important it is for nurses to be aware of Politics (although i am talking “big P” Politics here I am not talking party politics, which is perhaps a whole ‘nother blog!) As nurses I think that we need to know how Politics works, how we can influence it, what it takes to be heard and what it takes to make an impact.  Here are some of the specifics I took away from the event:

Firstly - Health is BIG, health is the number one thing that people petition the Government about, take a look at this great diagram below:

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Secondly - Most petitions that get rejected are duplicates of other petitions! So it’s important to search the petitions and not reinvent the wheel – tap into what other people are doing

Thirdly - Social media has made a huge impact on petitions … some go viral and reach 100, 000 signatures (the amount of signatures needed for the petition to be considered for a House Of Commons debate) in less than a day!

Fourthly - There are some really wonderful examples of where people have made a difference and have been listened too and action has been taken.  Some of the health related ones include The Meningitis B Vaccine, The Sugary Drinks Tax and Funding For Brain Tumours Research (you can read all about them HERE)

Fithly - Petitions are taken seriously.  The team at the event told us how petitions used to be put into a bag behind the speakers chair in the House of Commons .. hence the phrase “its in the bag!” However the digital age has made the bag so much louder, more visible and transparent.  The Petitions Committee are there to help anyone who petitions.

And lastly – The petitions that have made a difference are those that has persistent people at the heart of them. people who use the petition as a starting point and not and end point, people who keep going and keep campaigning for what they believe in.

The event very much reminded me of one of my most favourite quotes:

never-doubt

As nurses I think that we need to not only believe that we can change the world but also we need to understand how we can change the world …. if we have both belief and understanding then we can make a difference.

Some thoughts on conference Tweeting

It seems that conference season is upon us – and our Twitter stream will soon be full of weird acronym hashtags all ending in 16! It’s tricky to get the Tweeting balance right when you are at conference, you don’t want to tweet too much for fear of boring your followers but at the same time you want to share the knowledge and atmosphere of the conference.

Here is my brainstorm on conference Tweeting:

conf tweet

I don’t admit to getting it right all of the time, and sometimes I definitely feel that I have tweeted too much (if you ever feel I do then please just tell me – I promise I wont take offence) However it is important to get the balance right – both for you (as concentrating on tweeting what people are saying for long periods can be exhausting!) and for the people following the conference.

I first and foremost tweet for me, I use my tweets to refer to later in my CPD reflections.  I have been known to use Storify or Steller to collate the tweets and link them together: If you search for the conference hashtag and your Twitter handle eg “#ConferenceOfTheDecade16 @AgencyNurse” you can easily find just the tweets that you have sent, even months or years after the event!

Try to keep it informative, don’t be afraid to ask questions and draw in the people who may be watching on Twitter.  It is great watching a well tweeted conference from afar you can glean so much information however it’s even better when you start to have conversations with conference goers.

AND finally and most importantly if you have run out of phone battery by the first tea break you probably need to take a break ! Remember that there are people who are actually in the room too ;D

 

Everything changes…

I read a really interesting blog post a few days ago by one of my favourite bloggers @parthaskar Broken?” In this blog Partha asks if Twitter is broken, he remembers a time when “Twitter used to be a milder place, actually a fun place, a place to learn, a place sometimes for support. That world still exists, albeit shrunk. It bristles with indignation, with anger” I have to say I agree with Partha Twitter has changed since those early days, things are different however my thoughts are that we live in a different time to that of 5 years ago when I first started blogging and tweeting.  Ok, I agree, I am somewhat stating the obvious here so let me explain:

Twitter does not have the same feel as it did 5 years ago, could this be largely due to the fact that the world does not have the same feel as it did five years ago? We live in times of austerity, political flux and uncertainty in healthcare and this is bound to effect what people say and what people share in social media spaces. Heraclitus was once famed to have said:

river

 

 

A wise man that Heraclitus! Every time we step into Twitter its not the same and we are not the same.  We may not notice the subtleties, of change in temperature, change in composition, or the even the increase in fish from day to day and its only through looking back that we see what appear to be vast changes instead of an ever evolving thing.  But perhaps we need to look forwards ?

Heres where I come back to Parthas blog post and his thought that many people would like Twitter to be “a continued space of education and support.” I stand amongst those people and although this function still exists we also have the political (sometimes angst ridden) melting pot that sits alongside, which is by no means wrong … just different to what it used to be.  I guess what I am saying is its up to us!

The ecosystem of Twitter is as complex as human nature itself and the only thing we can be certain of is that it will continue to change. This is our space to shape and influence so lets ensure that it’s a balanced and productive space.

 

Are we ready for social CPD?

It was some 2 years ago now that Calvin Moorley and I wrote for the Journal of Advanced Nursing Using Social Media For Continuous Professional Development and much has changed.  Revalidation has been implemented and more and more nurses are engaging professionally via social media.  However I think much of this article is still very relevant and the concept of using social media for CPD is still very new to some.

A few weeks ago someone asked how many nurses were using social media for continuing professional development, not being sure of the answer I thought that a quick straw poll via Twitter might shed some light:

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A resounding (and I say resounding for reasons that will become clear in a moment) 37% said yes!! So why resounding … well I think that’s pretty amazing as look at how far we have come … it wasn’t so long ago that social media in nursing was totally frowned upon and here we are at a stage where people are using it to inform their work.  What was more interesting were some of the comments we received following this poll:

Screenshot 2016-07-11 14.57.01 Screenshot 2016-07-11 14.57.25 Screenshot 2016-07-11 14.57.37

Which is pretty wonderful as people clearly are thinking about it, and I started to think that maybe as peoples time to Revalidate comes closer this will spur them into action? Then I read Jenny Clarkes blog post Revalidation – My Journey and I loved how she made a passing reference to using social media for her CPD … it made it all so common place and .. well .. normal! Social media is part of our everyday “normal” lives and it’s becoming part of our everyday “normal” working lives, some of us are further along on this journey than others but its wonderful to see how nurses (and midwives) are creatively using their time in social media spaces to inform their work as practitioners.

This leaves me with a few questions? How do we help the “not yets”? How can we make using social media for CPD easy and accessible? How do we help people to become socially CPD savvy? Here are some of my suggestions:

  • Just because a conversation is virtual don’t rule it out as a learning point for CPD
  • Be open to learning anything from anywhere – a tweet, a YouTube video, a blog, a Twitterchat, a Facebook post, an inforgraphic (I could go on!)
  • Remember to critically appraise the information you are presented with – this doesn’t have to be formal but it’s important to always dig a little deeper and not take things at face value
  • Use #MyWe – its fab for reflecting on Twitter Chats for CPD (and its free!!)
  • Use blogs to their full potential – comment on them, add your reflections and join in discussions in the comments section, take screen shots and add them to your portfolio.  Also write your own blog and use it to reflect on practice and learning (the WeBlog is really simple and easy to use for those of you without a blog of your own) and add this to your CPD portfolio
  • Think differently – no matter what social media you use or how you use it think a little differently about it, ask yourself the question “can I use this for CPD?” if the answers yes take a screen shot and save it
  • Share what you learn from so that others can use it for their CPD too
  • Share the value of using social media for CPD with colleagues (there are some handy posters HERE and HERE that may help)

Of course, I don’t have all of the answers, merely a few suggestions … the wonderful thing about social media though is that one thought often leads to another and I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions around social CPD.

Build it and they will come?

I don’t know who first said “Build it and they will come” I vaguely recall some 90’s movie with aliens and a cornfield but I am not even sure if they were the first to coin the phrase … anyway “Build it and they will come” … what utter nonsense !!! Yet it seems to be a phrase that I am hearing with alarming regularity in healthcare social media so let me clarify this here and now, at no point at anytime in the history of life the universe and everything has the hard work stopped once we have “built” something … there is no doubt in my mind that it’s once you have built the hard work really starts.

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I guess that you are probably wondering what on earth am I rambling about this time ! Well here’s the crux – it seems that all too often in healthcare that we create a hashtag, create a video, create a blog or even create an infographic and then sit back think we have done all the hard work so we don’t have to do anything now …. Errrrrr wrong !  Yes its brilliant that we have this fab stuff but unless we do something with it then all our hard work is pointless.

Let me put it another way … imagine you built a shop, and in that shop you decided to sell everything that ever existed and a few more things besides… it’s a pretty cool shop.  However there is absolutely no point in just building the shop, how will people know about it? How will they know how to get there? How will they know how to use the shop, is it self service or do you ask at the counter? How will people know why they should visit your shop? Who will serve people in the shop? How will you evaluate that your shop is a success? How will you improve with your next shop?  ….. this is exactly the same in social media.

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If we have created something cool, something useful to nursing, something amazing that we want people to share, help develop or use we need to do more than just merely build it.  We need to consider:

  • Shouting (in the social media sense) about it … tweet about it, FB about it, share it, share it again and keep sharing it
  • Use role models and advocates to help you share it and show people how to use what you have created
  • If needed create instructions – this is often needed if you are asking people to participate in or do something eg a webinar or a twitterchat
  • Make sure there are people who’s role is to drive sharing and engagement around your cool stuff
  • Measure what you do, how it works, collect feedback
  • Evaulate, work out how you can do it better next time
  • Do not underestimate the resources it takes to do social media .. and even more so to do it well

Build it an they will come should be left firmly in the 90’s … doing social media well means putting in a whole heap of work … but it is so worth it when you see the difference it can make to the people we care for.

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To selfie or not to selfie ….

Selfies at conferences … where to start?  Well ever since someone was smart enough to reverse the camera on a smart phone (and in fact before then, though selfie quality was much diminished and you often ended up with a picture of your left ear!) selfies have been a part of our social media spaces.  Now I have to admit – I am a fan of the humble selfie, its good to meet people and take a picture and then hang it in a social media space .. its fun, it’s part of a ritual and it’s a good way to keep memories of great events.  However (and here’s where I duck for cover) I think that there is a time and a place.

Let me add a little context here…

Over the last five years nurses have worked hard to break down boundaries, to get healthcare and nursing to take social media seriously, and there can be no doubt that we have made great strides.  There are now more nurse bloggers than ever, twitter chats are not only being used to share information, ideas and expertise but also being used for CPD and as part of revalidation, evidence and research is being shared,  best practice is being disseminated and developed, and nursing issues are being debated constructively and productively.

In addition to this nursing itself (regardless of social media) continues to promote the ideas that care is anything but basic, that no nurse is “just a nurse”, that nurses need a degree education in order to deliver the very best care, and that nursing is a profession that is based in evidence and research.

I have often said that social media gives us global expertise in the palm of our hand but there is a flip side to this … with access to global expertise comes the plain and simple fact that we too are on that global stage.  Social media puts us – and by us I mean nursing – front and centre, whether we like it or not the second we set foot into social media spaces we are “on show”  And herein lies my problem with selfies at conferences  … is this the image of nursing that we want to portray at  national events? Isn’t this a bit trivial? Isn’t trivialising nursing what we are all working hard to eradicate?

Ok … lets just hold fire a moment and get one thing very clear …. I am not saying ban the conference selfie ! Perhaps I ought to say that again … I am not saying ban the conference selfie (hoping that’s clear now!)  I take selfies at conferences from time to time and as I stated above I think they are becoming an interesting part of modern culture and have a purpose that is based in fun and bonding.  What I am saying is lets make sure we get the balance right.

So how do we get the balance right ? I’m not sure I have all the answers but here are some of my suggestions to conference organisers:

  • Be your conference role model – use your own account to share the tweets highlight the amazing work that nurses do and how great your conference is, let that be your global image
  • Encourage those who are sharing the conference well
  • Have some role models in the room, people who tweet well and can convey the key messages of the conference
  • Encourage selfies at break times
  • Give people some top tips on conference tweeting before they come
  • Share the speakers Twitter handles – this may sound a bit off the wall but give people the tools they need to share the important messages
  • Have great wifi – again this mean that people don’t just tweet at breaks and the selfies don’t take over

And my advice to all those tweeting nurses out there? Just remember that nursing is so much more than a selfie.

 

#ItsNotAcceptableToJustHaveAHashtag

Back at the start of the year WeCommunities held it’s own “Conference” – I put this in inverted commas as it was more like a get together (WeGetTogether) than a conference in the traditional sense of the word – anyway, I am diversifying slightly (nothing new there!) the point is that through the WeGetTogether I learnt so much about the art of the possible regarding social media and conferences.  I have been to many conferences and witnessed so many more via Twitter and I feel that we have somewhat lost the plot when it comes to why we use social media during conferences.

I have long since thought that in order to make social media work for us and our organisations we have to look beyond just being on social media and ticking that social media box and look to our purpose here.  Correct me if I am wrong, the purpose of a conference is to:

  • Share information and knowledge,
  • Bring people together to enable them to network
  • Bring people together in order to make decisions or forward plan

Soooooo my question is … why is it acceptable to merely associate a hashtag to a conference and then flood the timeline with a whole heap of useless noise and selfies !!! This is particularly frustrating if you are watching the conference from afar, as a conference that has a “tick box hashtag” serves no purpose whatsoever, and, in fact, is counter productive as it just frustrates and annoys people.  Some of the things I have seen as recent as this week, that are a direct result of “tick box hashtags”  (and yes it is only Monday!) include:

  • Multiple hashtags for one conference (causing confusion for conference goer and conference watcher alike)
  • Conference hashtags streams full of selfies – even promoted by the conference organisers themselves! (whilst I like a good selfie there does need to be balance here!)
  • Useless information – eg Joe Blogs is now speaking …. Arrrggghhhhh !! We would love to know what he is saying !!!
  • Not enough links to live streaming – by which I mean that it is tweeted once at the start of the day and not promoted enough throughout the day for watchers to find
  • Ignoring tweets coming in to the conference – no mechanism to ensure that those watching the conference are included

Believe it or not I could go on … isn’t it time that we put a little thought into this? Isn’t it time that we revisited the purpose of conferences? And the purpose of using social media at conferences? If we want to hold a conference to share information, to bring people together and to forward plan why on earth are we not putting more thought to the people who are outside of the four walls of our conference?

When we put together WeGetTogether we had three aims (I would love to call it a triple aim but alas that title is already taken!)

some x3 conf aims

I cant admit to getting it all right first time but some of the things we did worked very well indeed:

Broadcasting / Taking the inside out – we used multiple social media including Twitter, Blogs, Vines and Periscope to engage people.  We made our agenda short, sociable and shareable.  We had student volunteers who Tweeted out informative and relevant tweets and were active role models for engaging. We held concurrent Twitter chats that sat alongside the agenda topics.   We made sure that the hashtag was visible – on every slide and on all of the literature.  We shared speakers Twitter handles.

Listening / Bringing the outside in – We had people whose specific job was to listen to social media and feed points back into the room.  We held Twitter chats and fed the main points back into the room.  We had large and visible Twitter walls  – that were uncensored. And, again, student volunteers really helped with listening to what was going on in social media and actively engaging.

Networking / Helping people to network – We had QR codes on each badge that people could scan to follow newly met friends.  We encouraged people to follow the people in the Twitter hashtag stream

If you are holding a conference it is not longer acceptable to just create a hashtag.  The social media part of the conference is as important as the conference itself – it spreads your message, it enables ideas from inside and outside of the room to be shared, it helps to make your audience feel valued (as opposed to the privileged few who can make the conference) and it enables both watchers and conference goers to network before, during and after the event. Doing social media well means ensuring that information and opportunities are accessible to all … it’s disappointing when all we see is a half-hearted hashtag with a stream of selfies!