Being a nurse practitioner in diabetes care has allowed me the opportunity to be involved with two things that I am passionate about; providing patient care and educating other health care professionals. Social media has enhanced my ability to do both. The first video I ever watched that was developed by someone with diabetes was Mike Lawson’s The Diabetes Police; it provided me with a different outlook on how someone with diabetes might be experiencing the “Nagging Nancy,” “Misinformed Matthew,” and “Gloomy Glenda” within their own lives. Why didn’t I think of this before? Who better to inform me than someone with diabetes? I showed this particular video to many patients during our clinic visits and several were able to identify with the video. This inspired me. What else could I learn from individuals with diabetes? What else did I need to learn in order to be a better clinician? I was on a mission to find out. I joined various diabetes online communities, read blogs, viewed vlogs, watched e-Patient Dave’s TED Talk, engaged with individuals through Twitter and Facebook (some which have led to in-person meet-ups), and reviewed discussion boards with diabetes content.
In addition to learning from individuals with diabetes, I have been learning from other health care providers who are utilizing social media professionally. I have been impressed with websites such as KevinMD and Webicina; and people like Howard J. Luks, MD, Pam Ressler, and Encoh Choi, MD. With the increased presence of medical providers utilizing social media, learning by experiencing the patients’ experience, I look forward to seeing where health 2.0 will be in the next few years.
Social media has provided me with an countless tools to share with patients in both the exam room and the classroom. But most of all, the addition of social media has helped me to become a better health care professional. I am better equipped to trouble shoot with patients and offer informative tips and advice that I have gained from various individuals I have encountered through social media. I am able to provide more website and online community recommendations that my patients might benefit from.
Not only has social media impacted me as a health professional, but also as a PhD student. Through the insight I have gained, I am currently focusing my doctoral studies on the diabetes online community and its relationship with health status. This rapidly growing intersection between health and social media will be an exciting area to study and I look forward to learning more.
I am an enhanced NP, and continue to grow with every status update, blog, and tweet!