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How-to guide for students: how to use social media to enhance professional practice

JWHPT Social Media Engagement Series – Part Four

Whether you’ve been assigned to tweet for as part of your DPT curriculum or you’re simply seeking to expand your knowledge within the field, social media engagement can, and we argue should, be a relevant part of your professional growth. Take a look back to part one of this series, “The Value of Social Media for Professional Engagement” and read through part two to learn about how your social media use actually affects the reach of scholarly content through altmetrics.

Here are 3 quick tips for using social media to enhance professional practice:

  1. Follow social media accounts related to your field of interest: By following accounts specifically related to an area of interest, students can become exposed to diverse ideas, treatment ethos of future colleagues, and hot off the press research. When consumed appropriately, social media can be an additional education source to add to current didactic paradigms. Be critical of information you gather from the influencers of our time who are focused on marketing their businesses. Be sure to seek out professional associations like @aptatweets, APTA Academies like @aptapelvic, and scholarly journals in order to round out your experience.
  2. Engage with social media: Conversations are happening all the time on social media! Engaging in conversations via direct messaging, comments, or re-posting can connect students to those practicing in the field and start meaningful discussions. It is a great time to ask questions or support ideas that you find interesting or useful! An ideal way to track current highlights in the field is to follow professional conferences using the related hashtag (i.e. #APTACSM, the official hashtag of the APTA Combined Sections Meeting). Whether you are attending and sharing your clinical pearls or simply following along, you are likely to take away a whole lot of valuable information.
  3. Be aware of content type: As we all know, there are a lot of different types of information on the internet! Social media can be a great educational resource, but it is important to understand which type of information you consume. Is the information reflecting clinical opinion? Anecdotal evidence? Evidence based practice? Product promotion? Which biases are being reflected? Being aware of sources while you sort through the value of what is consumed and question everything.

Social media offers a quick and simple way to keep track of new research, participate in scholarly discussion regarding how such research influences clinical practice (or not), and to learn from global leaders in the field. With students forced to engage virtually now more than ever, this is an opportune time to take advantage of platforms that already exist for precisely this purpose.


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