This weeks #OTalk is a media club on the topic of being human on the internet by Bill Wong (@BillwongOT).
The link for this week’s media club can be found here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nm0p2NQPB-M
Here’s what Bill had to say…
As a frequent attendee to occupational therapy conferences across the world since I was an OT student in 2009, I am aware that there have been constant discussions and activities on promoting the occupational therapy profession on the Internet. For example, major OT conferences have been tracking how their conference hashtags are doing on Twitter. Another example will be hashtags such as #ot365, #valueofot, #otdistinctvalue, #otphoto, #otmonth, #otweek.
Then, when occupational therapy made appearances on the Ellen show (a popular daytime afternoon show in the US) and Jeopardy (popular quiz show), it has gone viral on social media. Finally, the 2012 Eleanor Slagle lecture by Dr. Karen Jacobs is a notable scholarly speech on promoting occupational therapy. One of the byproducts is that there has been an increasing number of OT programs globally have introduced to their students the idea of Twitter as a professional development tool.
That said, despite all the buzz about promoting our great profession, I feel there have been two items that are not addressed as much. First, although many of us still feel we need to increase public awareness of our profession, it has been a challenge for many OT students and practitioners to constantly promote our profession on social media due to our busy schedules, social media competencies aside. Second, this is something I feel we have not addressed too much in our OT education, is to promote our profession with effectiveness. This represents the perfect transition of this week’s media club material and my reflection of it for the blog.
I started out my OT journey as a wallflower in OT school. I preferred to be in my own world more than in the company of others. Although I connected with majority of my classmates on Facebook, I did primarily for survival reasons, since I was below average for many of my OT classes in OT school. Meanwhile, since I knew OT was my second chance at a career, I also was trying to make network better than my undergrad days (which I did virtually no networking) so that I wouldn’t repeat my struggles of obtaining employment again. At that time, to the surprise of many people who know me now, I actually merely wanted to be a qualified occupational therapist. Although I had ambitions to achieve great things, I actually had not much idea on social media’s role in the profession. Also, not surprisingly, I still was searching for my professional identity as a member of the OT community.
As many people know, summer 2010 was a crucial point of my life personally and professionally. Making a long story short, finding out that I have Asperger’s Syndrome turned out to be a key foundation for my professional identity. After going through the grieving process through the help of some of my OT colleagues, I realized whatever I share about my lived experiences has immense value if I were courageous enough to share regularly. The kicker was that I must pass my placements and become a qualified occupational therapist. However, it was a difficult time for me because in the process of discovering my diagnosis, I walked out of my first hands-on placement. Because of that, I was in a position where I couldn’t afford to fail any more of such placements, as the consequence of walking out under most circumstances is a fail.
Then, when I became a qualified occupational therapist in fall 2012, I have decided to come full circle to support other OT peers while trying to expand my horizons professionally. At that time, I had received some positive feedback from the local OT community in California regarding my courage to share my lived experiences in autism. Also, I started to build my international connections in OT through participation of our great Twitter chat series. Finally, with the great Sarah Bodell as my preceptor for my OTD project, I was introduced to OT 24 Hour Virtual Exchange for the first time. All that added up to my boldness to share my personal insights from an OT perspective on social media.
Like many newly qualified occupational therapists, however, I had bouts of struggles of finding my voice. My primary struggles came from trying to balance out my two primary occupational roles- as an emerging autism self advocate and an occupational therapist. After all, although there were common grounds between the two roles on autism related issues, mastering the appropriate tones of what I say on social media was the most difficult challenge (which is not surprising given my autism diagnosis). The next most difficult challenge was about sharing my views on autism related subjects. I am thankful for my loyal peers in the OT profession for being patient through my trials and errors on finding my voice. Once I have progressed towards mastery, my social media presence exploded, which was part of the reasons why I was selected to do 2 TEDx Talks. Meanwhile, I have also set a continuous CPD goal since 2014 where I will try to master at least 1 new social media platform per year. Of course, I keep on breaking my Twitter impression records at OT conferences. That said, even though I understood the rationale of my social media related CPD goals, I have received mixed reviews from my peers when I mentioned these goals. The reactions I most often heard was “You are way up there with what you already do social media wise. I can’t even keep up with you. I don’t even understand how you do it, let alone you want to continue to innovate without losing your human touch, in spite you are working 40 or more hours a week.”
In researching for this topic, I also found this interesting fact. We all lie somewhere in the technology adaptation spectrum. 2.5% are innovators, 13.5% are early adopters, 34% are early majority, 34% are late majority, and 16% are laggards. (Source: http://www.ondigitalmarketing.com/learn/odm/foundations/5-customer-segments-technology-adoption/)
That said, watching this presentation has prompted me to create these discussion questions for our chat.
- What social media platforms do you have? For each platform, what purposes are you using it for?
- In regards to social media ideas, do you consider yourself an innovator, early adopter, early majority, late majority, or laggard? Why?
- On a scale of 1-10, how important is online presence in having success in the OT profession? Why?
- What qualities are you looking for on an influential OT student or practitioner online?
- On a scale of 1-10, how good are you trying to build rapport with your social media/online followers? Why?
- On a scale of 1-10, how well do you think you utilize your professional social media accounts (whether it’s for CPD or promoting OT)? Why?