Once upon a time I worked in a pilot program as a School-Based Youth Health Nurse. This role put me in close contact with teachers. By listening to their conversations about managing classroom behaviour I was introduced to a strategy that teachers use: “Catch them being good“.
In short, the teachers said it was very easy to get caught-up in noticing and reprimanding students about unwanted behaviours – so easy that it could completely monopolise lesson time some days. A smarter strategy was to hone-in on, recognise and celebrate students who were behaving well. Don’t try to catch students being naughty – try to catch them being good.
Over the last two weeks Australian Health Professionals have caught AHPRA, the agency that regulates us all, being good.
On Monday 19th March 2014 AHPRA joined the conversation on Twitter. After years of watching the AHPRA Twitter handle sit as stony-faced and as silent as an Easter Island statue, it suddenly sprang to life.
A few days later AHPRA announced that there would be changes to the advertising guidelines to be clearer about the use of testimonials, This change was in response to many concerns being raised by health practitioners that the initial set of guidelines had unrealistic, unworkable expectations regarding the use of social media.
Then, on Friday 28th March 2014, there was a Twitter chat with AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher using the hashtag #AHPRAqanda. Health professionals were able to seek clarity around expectations of the advertising and social media guidelines, and engage directly with AHPRA and each other about specific concerns.
AHPRA are only two weeks into their engagement on Twitter and have been pretty clear that they intend to walk before they try to run.
I am very pleased that AHPRA are on Twitter because it will help me address some of the fear (bordering on paranoia) that is expressed every time I facilitate an inservice on professional use of social media. Health professionals often express that they are reluctant to use social media in a professional sense because they fear that either their employer or AHPRA will see it as a bad thing. Now I will be able to confidently counter that concern by reinforcing my previous argument that health professionals should be unafraid to speak up and join in the conversation on social media.
Now that AHPRA has joined the conversation, maybe there is something of a bridge across “the big scary chasm” between the early adopters and the majority of Australian healthcare professionals using social media.
Let’s hope so.
As always, comments are welcome.
Paul McNamara, 30th March 2014