This week I interview Dr Leslie Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Diagnostic Radiography, at the University of Salford, Manchester, UK, on how she uses social media in her work. Leslie is currently leading the WOMMeN (Word of Mouth Mammogram e Network) project to explore the value of social networks for connecting practitioners with clients of the NHS breast screening programme.
Can you tell us some more about the WOMMeN project?
LR: I’m thrilled to be leading the Word of Mouth Mammogram e Network project. This project aims to improve information about breast screening using social media to link women with health professionals and with each other. Real life experiences are an extremely important source of information and this was what we wanted WoMMeN to focus on
When did you start using social media. What prompted you to get started?
LR: WoMMen started life in 2012. To begin with we viewed it as a project which would include an element of social media as part of the outcome – in other words, we’d produce some sort of information hub with a strong element of social media. However this rapidly turned on its head. WoMMeN became a project for which social media became an essential process tool: for managing the project, recruiting participants, collecting data, and sharing our work with the wider world.
This was a massive learning curve for our WoMMeN team (some more than others!). It was also at this point that I had a light bulb moment. It suddenly clicked how valuable social media is going to be for transforming the patient and practitioner relationship, for breaking down the power hierarchies that control how information is disseminated and even challenging what society has come to accept as valid in terms of knowledge.
Which platform(s) do you enjoy using the most?
LR: Probably like most people, I have a number of platforms which support different aspects of my life. I talk to my family and friends on Facebook – mainly because that’s where they are. But Facebook can also be used for more professional purposes and I particularly like its group facilities for this. We have used it to great effect on the WoMMeN project where we recruited 100 women into a private research design group to discuss everything related to breast screening and more. We gathered a lot of information from this wonderful group to inform the hub, but I also learned much about developing a caring community where women would feel safe enough to share their experiences.
I tend to use Twitter for networking with professional friends and colleagues and read lots of articles and great blogs through Twitter, so it’s wonderful for CPD.
Another success has been Whatsapp. I run a diet club with family and friends called Whatsapp Porkies where we share pictures of our weekly weight and lots of hints and recipes. We’ve been going a few years now and between us we’ve lost stones!
Oh, and I use WordPress for my blogs and websites as I find it quite user friendly.
Which topics interest you – eg do you take part in any particular twitter chats?
LR: I’m a radiographer by profession and there’s a lively radiographer journal club called #MedRadJClub set up by my some of the other prolific Tweeting radiographers from the UK, Canada and Australia. We share a paper and a guest editor also blogs about this beforehand. We then meet on-line to discuss the paper and have a general chat about radiography. It’s very successful
What advice would you give someone just starting out on social media?
The WoMMeN team have been working with radiographers to find out what their anxieties are. This WoMMeN off-shoot project has been a real eye-opener and we will be publishing the results shortly. However, many radiographers (and I am guessing this is true for other professionals too) are anxious about being misinterpreted by patients and the medico-legal implications of saying something ‘wrong’. My advice is to remember how wonderfully professional you are in your face-to-face encounters and approach on-line communication in exactly the same way. There really is nothing to be afraid of
Finally, would you like to share a favourite quote with us?
“In vain have you acquired knowledge if you have not imparted it to others” (Deuteronomy, I think?!)
Thanks Leslie for taking the time to share so generously with us your experience of using social media in your work. It’s been illuminating and inspiring.
Follow Leslie on Twitter @