#Hashtags??!??

7123500827_06c5e418af_z (1)In all of my recent learning about Social Media and the potential benefits of integrating its use into both health care and education I had not yet grasped the purpose of the hashtag. Some people seem to love them while others mock them but, whether I use hashtags or not, I do need to understand them. Their use is clearly summed up in The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtag, “On Twitter, the pound sign (#) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords.” Clicking on a hashtag allows you to see all of the posts that mention the subject in real time.

There is no preset list of hashtags. If you want to use a specific hashtag you can search directory services like tagdef.comtwubs.com and hashtags.org to see if it is already being used. If not, just put the hash (#) before your word or series of words (no spaces or punctuation marks) and you will have created a brand new hashtag. There are many directories and compilations of hashtags with a specific focus. The Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Education lists over 200 hashtags categorized into topics of interest to educators. 14 Twitter Hashtags for Nursing Students to Monitor shares several hashtags that could support students’ studies and broaden their understanding of the profession.

So, are hashtags just a fun and trendy thing to use or do they have a real purpose? Twitter is a busy place and hashtags are a way to aggregate tweets, categorizing messages with specific words or phrases. Anibel Paheco posted 7 Ideas for Using Hashtags in the Classroom including such suggestions as creating threads for class discussions and creating class messaging systems. For those planning to use Twitter as a teaching tool, the understanding and use of hashtags seems essential.

Social Medicine

8583949219_f55657573e_z‘White Coat Black Art’ is a radio documentary series on CBC Radio One that examines the business and culture of medicine. In 2010, host Dr. Brian Goldman explored the subject of Social Medicine. There is much debate among healthcare professionals about connecting with patients through social media. While there is the risk of serious consequences, many are using social networking to reach out to patients while maintaining ethical boundaries. This documentary explores the benefits and pitfalls of using social media as a tool to bridge the divide between professionals and patients.

Social Media Use in Nursing Education

1175879764_d26b43bd86_zIn 2013 the Globe and Mail reported that almost 70% of Anglophone Canadians are regular social media users (Oliveira, 2013). Considering this significant usage it has become critical for businesses, politicians, educators, and users to assess how best to utilize this new mode of communication. In a 2012 article in the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing the authors explore the benefits, barriers  and practicalities of integrating social media within nursing education.  They discuss social media tools as pedagogy, review  specific studies in the literature, and offer practical suggestions and examples of use within courses and programs. One indicated resource of use to Canadian nursing instructors is a toolkit recently released by the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario to “help educators to embed informatics content within undergraduate education” (as cited in Schmitt, Sims-Giddens, and Booth, 2012, para 3). (This resource is now posted as a link under Nurse Education)