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Feeling like it's hard to stay on top of new information in our practice? Feeling like you're the only one working in your area? Want to be more involved, but don't know where to start? Social media can help. 

In the January/February issue of your magazine Physiotherapy Practice, we profiled five social media leaders from around the world. We are pleased to bring you the extended interviews that helped develop the article for the magazine. You can access the magazine online at:

https://physiotherapy.ca/publications/vol-7-no-1

 

Meet Dave Nicholls, a member of the Critical Physiotherapy Network executive. You can find him on Twitter @DaveNicholls3 or through his blog posts on www.criticalphysio.net.

Tell us about how you became active in social media?

I’ve been using social media with students for about five years now.  More recently, I’ve used Twitter, and to a lesser extent Facebook, Pinterest, Vimeo, Instagram and a few other tools, as ways to connect with a community of like-minded critical thinkers.  I get a lot of inspiration from social media and use it to develop my own ideas.  I have been blogging regularly on the Critical Physiotherapy Network (CPN) site for nearly three years. I love the less formal, more freeform way of writing, that’s more exploratory and open than a lot of academic writing.  I don’t think social media will replace proper scholarly writing and publishing, but its certainly opening up some interesting new possibilities.   

 

Tell us about the moment when you realized social media was a useful knowledge translation tool.

I think the most important ‘moment’ happened when people started writing back to me saying that they found my blogposts challenging and interesting.  People started sharing posts on Twitter and Facebook and commenting on the ideas.  I realized that social media can reach so many more people than a conference or even a journal article.  It can do it quicker too, which makes the message much more ethereal. I like that. There is too much emphasis placed on the permanence of ideas.  People should feel freer to change their mind and not be defined by fixed opinions. We expect our bodies to be flexible; why not our minds?

 

What do you consider before you decide to share, repost, post, say, etc.?

When writing a blog about critical thinking, you’re always conscious that people might misunderstand your intentions.  Some people might think that the CPN is just a platform for being negative about physiotherapy.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Everyone I know in the network is passionate about physiotherapy, and wants to see it achieve its full potential.  So it's inevitable that we have to be a bit careful when we really do feel the need to criticise something that physiotherapists are doing or saying.  I think embarrassing or upsetting people is a mark of narrow-mindedness and an indication of intolerance towards the views of others.  It doesn’t matter if you do only have 140 characters to express your opinion; you should always try do use your voice to say something that will open spaces for thinking differently, not close them off.  

 

What advice would you give health professionals who are interested in using social media for knowledge translation? 

My advice would be to choose a platform and spend time watching how it works.  Learn how to make the best of the tool to say what you want, then find your voice with a few posts about things you would be prepared to debate.  Don’t try to tackle the things that define your personal or professional identity unless you’re really sure what you think about those things.  Even then, be careful that you’re not using social media to evangelise.  It’s about co-construction of knowledge, debate, discussion, sharing, give-and-take…not “my might is greater than your right”.  If you want to convert the world to your point of view, buy a soapbox.  

 

Where can people follow you on Social Media and/or what are the top 5 “social media accounts” to follow? 

People can find me on Twitter @DaveNicholls3, on Facebook at davenicholls09.  I write regularly on the CPN blog and work at AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand.  You can find my research work here. I follow a lot of sites that focus on 21st century education, the history of healthcare, continental and postmodern philosophy.  You can see some of my favourite bloggers by looking at who I follow on Twitter.  ​

 

So if you want to give social media a try for gathering and sharing information for your practice, you can start with following the CPA Division that you are a  member of (e.g. Pain Science @painphysioscan). Once you figure out who the leaders in your area of practice are, check out who they follow. You will slowly build up your network and start being exposed to many learning opportunities.

If you haven’t dabbled in social media yet, have we convinced you to give it a try? Check out how Chantal Lauzon got started on Twitter.

If you love this, check out the Physiotherapy Practice social media issue here.