1. Perry, William MA, RN

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The Internet has brought the spirit of global communication and collaboration to nurses and other healthcare professionals in ways never before thought possible. These resources are offered to expand your opportunities for discussion, reference, education, and research.


I have been following articles about the application Twitter for a couple of years. The Web site describes it as the way to respond to the question "What are you doing?" in 140 characters or less. Early examples of Twitter messages, or "tweets," consisted of personal bits and pieces of information sent to the world at large and seemed silly. What relevance could it have to a clinical or education setting? It took me a while to understand that it is not the same as 1:1 "texting," but it is an application to create short, information-rich posts to a central area that others can elect to follow either online or by cellular phone. As with any Web site or blog, the challenge is to find those with similar interests and content you want to follow. As of this writing, there are more than a million Twitter accounts, and it is finding a real place in education and healthcare.


A CINAHL search for the word Twitter yielded 13 articles. Diane Skiba's article entitled "Emerging Technologies Center. Nursing Education 2.0: Twitter & Tweets. Can You Post a Nugget of Knowledge in 140 Characters or Less?" in Nursing Education Perspectives ( would be my primary recommendation to someone curious about Twitter. It is an excellent, succinct introduction to the application, and Dr Skiba gives several personal and published examples of how educators are using Twitter.


David Wilkins, a social learning and computer-mediated education consultant, wrote,


In 24+ months and across 1000+ posts, I think I might have answered "What I'm doing" less than 50 times. The rest of what I post? Links. Comments on other people's links. Responses to people's questions. Suggestions for people to connect. Twitter, for me, is not about sharing the minutia of my day but about sharing the insights and sources that shape my professional thinking. And by following the contributions of others, I can see what's shaping their thinking, what sources they follow, how they connect their professional dots. You see, a funny thing happened when the community began shaping Twitter's usage: it stopped being about microblogging and it started being about microsharing across personalized networks.-The Social Enterprise blog:


How do you start? Go to the Twitter Web site ( and create a free account. Just as with a Listserv or discussion board, you are not obligated to post, although the greatest value in social learning comes from the exchange of ideas. The initial goal is to find and follow the messages from individuals or groups with interests similar to yours. One list of healthcare twitter addresses is "Twitter Doctors, Medical Students and Medicine related" at There are dozens of nurses, physicians, and agencies using Twitter. The Centers for Disease Control is on Twitter at, and The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is at Phil Bauman, RN, published a free e-book called "140 Health Care Uses for Twitter" at The Cleveland Clinic Continuing Medical Education department is using Twitter ( to post news and course updates, and the Henry Ford Hospital used Twitter to "to provide real-time updates on a robot-assisted surgery" (


As with any Internet application, there are potential hazards. There have been reports of malicious links on Twitter messages that can result in downloading infected files and phishing scams that attempt to capture user account information ( Universal precautions apply to computing as well as healthcare.


What role Twitter will play in my professional life is still evolving. I am still exploring and urge you to create an account and explore as well. It is truly becoming an application to foster communication, collaboration, education, and research in healthcare and education.


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William Perry, MA, RN