How Digital Literacy is not just a nice to have – but a necessary skill for all Rehabilitation Professionals.
Guest Post by Purple Co Consultant, Ross Miller
We have all moved into the late part of decade two of this millennium. Some of us can remember when there were no computers, no emails, no social networks and the opportunity to collaborate in the most fantastic of ways. “Technology” we saw on Star Trek 1966 is now here and with us permanently!
For many of us, this has improved access to our own families, with friends from school who we have lost touch, allowed us to learn and develop as people and a community in general. It has also allowed us to configure our professional lives in such a way that we can work towards better outcomes for our clients. Additionally, it has also allowed us to reflect and assist our colleagues who may be experiencing burnout, fatigue and a disinterest in being a focused and positive professional.
Technology and the digital age is with us to stay. A little like electricity, cars, emotions, taxes and so many other positive and potentially rewarding aspects of century 21. It is our job as professionals who are essentially designed to help others, to make the most of this technology in a safe, privacy-aware inclusive and progressive manner.
Letting Technology absorb our energies
What we need to be aware of whilst using this technology is most of all, to use it properly. Many of us have mobile devices with upwards of 60 to 80 Apps, clogging the screen, taking up our time, diminishing our professional and personal resources. Visually, we are attempting to identify small images, text and other data amongst a plethora of imagery all designed to catch our eye, all competing and wasting our time and energies. All needing updates and changes on a regular basis.
In reality, if we were to do a proper analysis of the usefulness of these Apps in our professional lives, we would find that possibly up to a third or more have no critical work related content or relevance in any way, shape or form. Such Apps were suggestions of other professionals or they just look good on the App store. So, we download, install, configure, “gasp” and wonder just how amazing this all is and think this will be great for my work. In that time, we have lost hours of time we can never retrieve.
Is LinkedIn the best Platform of choice?
Then we have those Apps such as LinkedIn that we are told, are wonderful, connect us to our peers, potential recruiters, professional networks and amazing changes in treatments and rehabilitation ideologies. This is especially so with new structures for analyzing pain, fatigue, return to work strategies and sharing information about the professional developmental opportunities within our often-cloistered groups.
Within LinkedIn, a review of many profiles would reveal that some members have hundreds if not thousands of professional connections. The problem here of course, is that with a critical review of these connections, many may be considered irrelevant and inconsequential to professional standing or you being able to have a meaningful relationship. As an observer of LinkedIn profiles, those people with large numbers are those I tend to pass over with little interest. It is their engagement strategy within the platform that is important.
Having hundreds of “connections” with no practical interchange of ideas is like having a room full of Encyclopedia Britannica. Huge amounts of useless, irrelevant and time consuming resources that you don’t use nor contribute. You just keep spending time, energy and intellectual resources over the years wondering who or why you connected to someone, just like the encyclopedias.
So why do we persist, as with other social media, to pursue numbers rather than the actual quality of any particular connection? Is there value in our professional capabilities and development with being able to say “hi” to someone we met at a conference in Perth? Possibly not. The likelihood of either meeting such “connections” in the future are highly limited and as with many connections, you will never hear from them or about them other than to congratulate them on a work anniversary or a birthday. Is this meaningful?
What is important, quantity or quality?
Why does this matter? As a health professional with the ultimate goal of guiding and assisting people back to a lifestyle that might include employment, family involvement, inclusion in the community and a betterment of their own self worth, we only have very limited practical time to give to others. A quality service when dealing with someone in critical or chronic pain, or someone with extreme fatigue issues, is highly dependent on two major factors. The first is your own professional capacities and skills structure.
The second is time. Time cannot be expanded to 25 or 26 hours a day. With consideration to the work life balance and the assurance of continuing professional ability, our work day is also limited, therefor, our obligation to social media also needs limits and boundaries.
How can I make a change that is truly meaningful?
So, the resolution of these competing self-imposed obligations remains wholly within the power of the individual practitioner. If you wish to gain exposure to ideas, new ideologies and opportunities, focus your social media involvement. Every two months review your connections list and remove those who you have had no interchange for some time. If the connection has not posted a quality idea online that impacts on your work, remove them. Start focusing on the quality connection that you would have no problem with giving of your time and energy.
For the health professional operating in a discipline that often provides life changing guidance, learning is essential. What a person might do with these hundreds of connections is to start the cull. With what you have left after the cull, it would be worth joining LinkedIn sub groups and interact with discussions of absolute relevance to your trade. This might be servicing vision impaired clients, could be helping highly pain focused victims of aggravated violence or a health smart athlete who now experiences debilitating chronic fatigue. Engage in these sub-groups rather than making “scatter gun” comments to the entire LinkedIn universe. Provide feedback to others, firm up those professional relationships found in Groups. Extend your credibility through your active engagement and generate your own Linked In sub group.
As a health professional or someone in an associated service, you need to prioritise your reason for even being on social media, whether this be LinkedIn, Facebook or other platforms. Secondly, you need to develop a plan or structure, so you do not misalign your balance between running a business, interacting with clients, engaging with referrers or just letting social media eat into your precious leisure time. Finally, by reducing your number of connections, focusing on the relevant and positive, adjusting to the idea of sharing and engaging rather than browsing, you may be able to better manage work life balance, quality service provision and better outcomes for those clients who have laid their trust and lives with you as their primary health professional.
Finally, identify some of the Apps that are available that trans-migrate posts across platforms. You enter your post, links and resources into these Apps and it posts your ideas and thoughts to most of the platforms that you would be engaging on a separate one by one basis. They are out there and are readily found with good research and analysis. Before you do this, endeavor to cull each of the platforms of unnecessary and time consuming links and networks.
Ross is a veteran of the Rehabilitation Counselling profession, having worked extensively across a range of national, state and self-insured jurisdictions. As a person with a visual and hearing impairment, Ross is an incredible role model and facilitator of work capacity for his clients who are doubtful of their ability to return to work. Ross has exceptional positive outcomes for job-detached men in their 40’s and 50’s and in working with clients with a visual and hearing loss. Whilst Ross is relaxing, you might find him enjoying a glass of wine or cooking up some spicy chili dish.
References used to create this post