It's been a while since I started using Twitter. It was my daughter, @acbmidwife who first stirred my interest. I don't know how it all happened, but now most of my days involve 'tweeting' or 'chirping', and the result is I am increasingly connected with like minded folks across the globe. Not only am I in touch with inspirational leaders from nursing and midwifery, but NHS CEO's such as Lisa Rodrigues @LisaSaysThis and Mark Newbold @drmarknewbold always have great information to share. I communicate with local GPs, and Stuart Berry @StuartBerry1 is one of them. Stuart and I have never met, but we have some similar interest and can promote each others' work through Twitter channels. Amazing. Interestingly, Stuart posted this about the use of Twitter this morning. Great stuff!
There isn't a week goes by when I'm not contacted by individuals asking me for help and support, or inviting me to speak at study days an other events. I am particularly happy with this, as it helps me to share expertise gained by working in the NHS for 35 years.
Last week was a particularly busy week, and almost everything that I did was either initiated or organised via Twitter! I happened to be in London, for some 'away time' with the Trustees of the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust on Saturday...and then the fun started.
On Monday morning I met with the wonderful Alison Baum from Best Beginnings, to see how I could help her with the amazing new smartphone app for new parents. This all came about when I retweeted a short film about the app, and Alison asked to see me. I visited Alison's office and we didn't pause for breath for two hours. Lots of ideas and plans...including a small package to be sent to the Duchess of Cambridge! Take a look at this film to learn more about the Bump Buddy app....
I then scurried to St Pancras to meet Murray Chick (yes that's his real name). Murray is the owner and brainchild of Britain's Nurses, and I LOVE the site. Again, this opportunity was made via Twitter, I found the site there, and made some enquiries. Incredibly easy, and so effective! Previous to this meeting, and through Twitter, @Britainsnurses picked up two of my blogs to share with nurses for International Nurses Day! Sorry about that @gbutcher17!
The day after I went to Kings College London again to meet a group of wonderfully enthusiastic and very smily positive student midwives, organised via Twitter following a lovely invite by student midwife Natalie Buschman @Birthsandmore. It wasn't the first time Natalie and I connected and made a plan via Twitter; she also took up the challenge to do the Prudential Ride London, in aid of the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust, after seeing me advertise the opportunity on Twitter! Great work Natalie! If you want to sponsor Natalie, and thereby support the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust, you can do so here!
After being with the students I ran round the corner to enjoy lunch with three formidably inspirational women: Maggie Howell @MaggieHowell from Natal Hypnotherapy , Independent Midwife extraordinaire Pam Wild @Pamoneuk and journalist Beverley Turner @BeverleyTurner . What a treat. Again...lot's to chat about and plan in limited time...and it all started with Twitter!
And then a couple of weeks ago Dean Beaumont @DaddyNatal from Daddy Natal, invited me to review his book...'The Expectant Dad's Handbook' on Twitter. We exchanged contact details through the direct message function, and voila! The book plopped through my letterbox and was avidly devoured within a few days. The book, by the way, is spot on. Sensible and sensitive...with great advice for all Dads-to be. I will be writing a review Dean!
I have the feeling that my Twitter support of StudentMidwife.Net went some way to their decision to invite me to be their Patron. Whoop! What a privilege and an opportunity. Also, through Twitter I saw an chance to be involved with @WeNurses, by running regular @WeMidwives chats...which has been a steep learning curve! This has really given a new voice to Midwifery.
And then there's the fabulous Doulas. I 'met' many of them through Twitter, and we connect so regularly I feel like I know some of them well, even though I have never seen them in person. There are too many Doula friends to mention here, but you know who you are! (I'll probably cause offence if I miss anyone out!). Through Twitter, I have come to know and appreciate your valuable contribution to childbirth.
And of course this isn't just all about me. I couldn't ask many, but these two student midwives have had opportunities too, through using Twitter:
Student Midwife @Li33ieBee said -'Via Twitter I have had articles proofread by experts and been sent hard to find research papers'.
Sarah Tuke @sazzletastic told me- I have become a more compassionate 'put hands on' midwife after reading quotes from Sheila Kitzinger at a conference to put hands on to reassure to increase oxytocin. It works! Wouldn't have known about what she said without tweeting from that conference as I couldn't make it :)
HOW GOOD IS THAT?
But there aren't many midwives using Twitter, and there are still a considerable number of individuals and organisations that are fearful of using social media. I know that several health professionals have lost their jobs or places at University, due to inappropriate postings. But this is a pity. There's lots of guidance out there, and with common sense you really can avoid the pitfalls.
The NHS Social Media site has lots of useful tips
Guidance for NHS Caremakers is useful for all health care professionals
Here are some great folks to follow or connect with:
Sarah Stewart- Midwife Educator and Professional Development Officer with Australian College of Midwives @SarahStewart (and quite a whizz with social media matters)
Jacque Gerrard -Director for England Royal College of Midwives @jacquegerrard
Mark Newbold -Chief Executive of Heart of Birmingham FT @drmarknewbold
Anne Cooper -Nurse working in informatics interested in leadership @anniecoops
Teresa Chinn-Nurse and social media specialist @AgencyNurse
And if you are unsure about what Twitter is, and why or how it would be useful to you, @pam007nelmes is a social media expert, AND she believes kindness is magic which for me, is the best. Pam is worth following as she has lots of tips! Here is one of Pam's presentations-Social Media for Nurses Oct 2012
For me, Twitter brings fabulous worthwhile interactions with others, the sharing of current and interesting news or information, and unique and exciting opportunities. And every now and then, there'll be a gem that pops up, such as Molly Case's inspirational poem, read by her at the RCN Congress 2013.
So, last night I asked several student midwives who are already engaged with Twitter, what benefits they felt it brought them...and here are a few of their 'tweet responses' back to me!
@dawn_t12 -'Twitter for me is invaluable as a student. It keeps me updated on news/new research/study days, but more than that it's another form of support. I love that through twitter I've made friends with people at different unis in different towns and we help each other through the bad days and celebrate the good. It's just sad some students & midwives are missing out on this world!'
@Beetrooter- 'Twitter brings fellowship with ppl passionate about midwifery from across the world & across spectrum of professional roles. Its my inspiration for learning, gives evidence to inform my practice, rolemodels for me to aspire. Instant access to womens' experience jubilant/ anguish. Twitter is conversations. It's life squished beautifully into 140 characters'.
@Birthsandmore -'great way to broaden mind, horizon and tweet with like minded people you otherwise would not have met. t lifts my spirit to read and hear from so many passionate people, especially after a tough day 'at the office'!
@Josie_jo_F-'from a v.small Uni, twitter gives me a chance to find out what happens in other trusts, have contact with other SMs, learn from MWs, lecturers&other inspirational ppl I'd never meet in my isolated neck o'the woods.glad to have found this community'
@sazzletastic-People on twitter have been an amazing support to me throughout my 3rd yr studying giving me encouragement and reassurance to keep going and have confidence in my knowledge and abilities. Having access to organisations and big names in the field that actually reply to you is brilliant! I've learnt so much via twitter, I only wish I'd had it for the first 2yrs of study too!
So, come on midwives and student midwives....Twitter has so much to offer. Facebook keeps you in touch with friends, but Twitter helps you find those you would never have met, who hold the potential to open up a new world for you! As student midwife Hana Ruth Abel
so eloquently puts it:
Twitter is the thread that binds me across the globe, weaving me into the fabric of international midwifery & making me a piece of the puzzle that builds up a global voice, I am an equal part of that voice. Ever changing and pushing myself to grow with a community of individuals who share my philosophy and question practice. Twitter shines a light on every end of the spectrum. United we stand on our virtual platform- Speaking up and stepping forward, one tweet at a time'.