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Striving to Be a DPT

How PT Can Benefit From Getting Social

Published June 17, 2014 5:24 PM by Jocelyn Wallace

In our first few weeks of PT school, we've spent a lot of time discussing appropriate social media use. In one of our classes, we even did some "cybervetting," or searching for ourselves online. As an admitted tech-geek, I have been all over social media from a young age and, before even beginning physical therapy school, I was blogging and moderating the #DPTstudent chat on Twitter. If I am passionate about something, it has always been natural for me to put myself out there and say so.

Due to this background, I was surprised when my professors spent quite a bit of time discussing the negative consequences of the inappropriate use of social media without going any further than that. We were shown the repercussions of posting pictures of ourselves chugging from beer bongs and talking badly about our CIs. These are all valuable lessons; however, the world of social media offers so many opportunities for students, clinicians and patients!

The biggest reason I am pro-social media is because physical therapy as a profession should be out there, searchable to patients who are researching their symptoms or diagnoses. If physical therapists want to be a first-stop for patients, we should be a top result online. If PT, as a profession, doesn't participate in social media, it will go unnoticed.

Personally, I'm also a big fan of professional social media use because of the reach you can get with professionals and fellow students. I am 3 weeks into PT school and have connected with at least a dozen clinicians and even more students. Those people, students included, may someday be my bosses or make the decision to hire me. More importantly, they will all be my colleagues and getting to know them has been incredibly exciting!

In short, there are tons of reasons to love using social media! Of course, we shouldn't be posting pictures of ourselves partying, but the message shouldn't stop there. Social media is an enormous part of our lives now and, while it carries a lot of responsibility, I think schools should incorporate professional, productive and beneficial use of it into the physical therapy school curriculum.

These are, of course, my very uneducated opinions, so I would love to hear your thoughts! Do you think social media use is essential to healthcare practitioners and organizations? What about students? Can we handle the responsibility?

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You make a great point. We have to be willing to take risks to reap rewards & create change, right?

I do agree with Jason & Mary that there are boundaries to what we should post online. Seems some of these boundaries are being pushed, but there are certainly some things that will be forever unprofessional (beer bong photos, for example),

Jocelyn Wallace June 19, 2014 9:48 AM


Thank you for your input. I agree that finding the correct balance while still getting yourself out there in the social media realm is important!

Jocelyn Wallace June 19, 2014 9:45 AM


Its a balance when posting on line.  How much do you want the world to know about you and your opinions and how will that affect you when you decide to run for a leadership position in 10 or 20 years.

Dean brings up the point about fear of expression and making amends for mistakes.  Certainly people will express different opinions at different stages in their life but tweet one seemingly derogatory statement about a group, a person or an issue and see what happens.  

Provided the information you discuss and share on social media sites are relevant to topics in therapy I see that as beneficial.  

Jason Marketti June 18, 2014 9:37 PM

As an old guy who frankly just figured out Linkedin and won't go near Twitter, I agree with you 100%. I think social media is a great way to raise awareness and market PT as a profession. I know lots of trainers and other "fitness professionals" who are doing just that.

I would like to challenge the viewpoints of Jason and Mary. I understand them, but I am fatigued by fear being the primary driver for choices. I have said some things on this very blog site that, with hindsight, could've been said better. So what? People make mistakes, people make amends, that is actually how growth and learning occur.

Don't let fear rule your decisions, do strive to make smart decisions, but let's not let them be based on fear. Just my 2 pence.

Dean Metz June 18, 2014 3:14 PM

Hi Jocelyn,

I agree that social media sites can be a great boost to physical medicine, but Jason also makes a very valid point. As long as you work in a sensitive profession (teachers, doctors, clergy) you are obligated to maintain a clean reputation for the sake of your patients/clients. One only has to read the news headlines to see the consequences of a single wrong choice. Unfortunately, one misinterpreted photo or ranting comment can undo everything you've worked so hard to achieve, no matter how innocent the intention.

As a writer, I have to be careful about my public image. Whether it's fiction novels or my informative articles, I have to maintain a clean image if I want readers to respect my work. Therefore, I don't rant on any social sites where I have an account. I don't even express negative opinions on my blogs because someone might hold it against me. I know some sites (like Facebook) give you the option to make a comment public or private, but even then, I wouldn't take a chance on posting something that might somehow be misinterpreted.

I like the posts you publish; they're informative and professionally composed. As long as you stay within those same boundaries on social sites, you shouldn't have any problem. As for photos, you and anyone in a similar career or profession will always have to be on guard and be careful about the company you keep in public. It just goes with the territory. Good luck to you in school, and keep posting!

Mary King, writer June 18, 2014 11:12 AM
Milton FL

Thanks for your input Jason! Do you think the potential negative consequences of using social media outweigh the benefits? Is there ever a way to separate personal/professional use?

Jocelyn Wallace June 18, 2014 10:04 AM

Beneficial to promote therapy yes.  

Social media can also get a lot of people in trouble.  A simple photo posted of two friends can be interpreted a multitude of ways and could derail a prosperous career.  

Maybe the state boards of therapy will begin to search us and determine whether we have the professionalism to maintain a license in their state.  And if something negative comes up on a social media site that potentially impacts your character you do not get to practice therapy in their state.  

Jason Marketti June 17, 2014 11:12 PM

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