I have just returned from the 30th annual Dermatology Nurses' Association conference in Denver, Colorado. I hope many of you had the opportunity to go because this year's program was particularly exceptional and there were many standout presentations. If you missed out this time, why don't you consider joining us next year in New Orleans, Louisiana? We'd love to see you and learn about you and your practice. At the conference, I had the opportunity to talk to many nurses working in a variety of practices-phototherapy, cosmetic, general, and surgical. What I learned from talking to each of them is that we all have a very important role to play in the lives of our patients.
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The convention's keynote speaker was Dr. Michael Bleich from Oregon. During his powerful keynote presentation, he said, "This is the moment in time when people need to know what we, as dermatology nurses, do." He went on to say that "we need to use a good voice to describe what we do." As nurses and people working in healthcare, how we are doing just that is changing in the 21st century. For many of us, using social media is one way to communicate with our patients, other healthcare professionals, and the public. In talking with various convention attendees, I asked them what role social media plays in their personal or professional lives.
F. D., from Nebraska, is a family nurse practitioner who, for the past 7 months, has managed her own family practice. She incorporates dermatology in the fabric of the practice, and she specifically enjoys the cosmetic aspect. To market her new practice, she has an office Web site for patients, uses e-mails to advertise the cosmetic specials, and is working on a new Facebook page. She acknowledges the importance of social media and plans to slowly incorporate this into her practice. Of interest, her mother, S. S., is also a nurse who was in attendance at the conference and owns a nursing business. She too has a Web site and says "I'm found a lot by the Web site." Both business owners admit the importance of keeping their Web sites up to date for both patients and potential clients. S. S. finds that a billboard in her front yard is great advertising in her small town and admits "word of mouth" is the best referral source.
M. M., from California, works in general dermatology for a large practice. She does not use any social media, in part because she is finishing her DNP. She hopes to become involved in newer ways of communicating as she graduates.
Z. W. and C. D., from California, note that, where they work, there is definite patient interest in social media, but at this time patients can only go online to get a copy of their medical records. In other practices, in Chicago, Illinois, some patients are being able to schedule appointments online.
A. R., N. C., A. S., and F. G., from Phoenix, Arizona, say their practice is definitely getting into the social media efforts. Their practice is currently constructing a Facebook page and has a QR code (those computer-generated black boxes) posted in their office for those patients with smart phones, and the office recently redesigned the practice Web page so that patients are able to input their medical history online before the office visit. They mention that their office is also listed on http://www.zocdoc.com, a Web site at which you can locate a nearby provider and schedule an appointment online. All four women acknowledge that their patients were initially hesitant about some of the new changes, but "now they're so used to it" and the reception has been favorable. They say, it helps that "we're not alone in doing this, other doctors are doing this too." It has also helped that there is an office member dedicated to developing social media content and working through the patient privacy issues.
In contrast to those extensively using social media venues to help develop practices, B. and B., both from Florida say, "we are dinosaurs" and say their office is changing over to electronic medical records just this year. They say their daily routine in the dermatology office is just too busy to involve social media efforts, but they do use e-mail blasts to advertise specials for the Medi-Spa component of the practice. B. and B. think their patients are open to social media attempts and admit they have a younger office manager who is beginning to introduce social media into the office.
In my current practice, we have a Web site that patients can go to before their visits. On this Web site are the documents and paperwork they will need to present to the office before being seen as a new patient. From my rough estimates, about half of our patients are visiting the Web site before coming to the office. For many people, this is a time saver in their already busy day. Personally, I follow the Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association on LinkedIn and I'd like to start reading several nursing blogs. As I'm sure, you've noticed, JDNA is online (http://www.jdnaonline.com), has a LinkedIn group, a Facebook group, and can be followed on Twitter. Would you consider connecting with the JDNA in any of these venues?
In an effort to help our readers be current, adaptable, and flexible, there are several articles in this issue about social media and the influence and impact it has on both our personal and professional lives. Digital Development Editor Lisa Bonsall has coordinated several pieces about social media and why it is important to our practices. I will admit I am not the most technology-savvy person, but I have come to realize the impact social media is having and will continue to have on our practices and our patients. I am interested in hearing how you might use technology or social media in your practice-I am sure many of you have good ideas and would welcome you sharing them with all of us.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Angela L. Borger