Sheree Bekker, ACRISP
The power of social media in our field, the field of sports medicine — it has been something I have written about from time to time. It’s something I have lectured about, too, on several occasions: at American College of Sports Medicine(ACSM) meetings as well as at a recent National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) meeting.
I think there are, indisputably, a number of reasons someone in our field should get on Twitter, or should identify a blog or podcast to follow…..Among those reasons: i) there exists an extraordinarily flexible, responsive, and timely method of staying abreast of ‘breaking’ news in our world; ii) there is a unique way of curating the research one cares about; and iii) there is the ability to have conversations and network with peers from around the globe. No limits in space and time to the #SportsMedicine community that exists on #SocialMedia channels.
All that said, I also think Social Media does not exist apart from ‘real relationships’. That is, in my judgment, the relationships formed in Social Media are grounded in the chance that they can be made physically real. Social Media alone will not replace a handshake, or a face-to-face conversation at a conference. But Social Media can be that introductory acquaintance that can blossom into a more collaborative relationship when two colleagues finally meet.
Sheree Bekker — aka @ACRISPFedUni [The Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention], aka @shereebekker — represents, for me, precisely that sort of person, that sort of relationship I first made her acquaitnace via her Twitter feeds. Then I was blown away by a blog post she authored after her participation in a Mayo Clinic Healthcare and Social Media Summit in Australia. And, finally, I met her. The ‘real’ her, and not a Twitter avatar! Turns out that Sheree is originally from Botswana, and she was in southern Africa for a visit home and a swing through the South African Sports Medicine Association meeting in Johannesburg (SASMA2015) which I recently attended, as well. From “Learners to Leaders,” that was the theme of SASMA2015; those of you who follow this blog know full well what a smashing success that conference was.
When Sheree came up to introduce herself to me in Johannesburg, well, it was like meeting an old friend. And rather quickly, we decided we needed to do a joint blog post about Social Media and its place in the Sports Medicine world.
In the spirit of collaboration, here is Sheree, to talk more about how, in particular, Social Media can play a role in turning “Learners” into “Leaders.”
Sheree Bekker: It is no secret that I am a big fan of slightly obsessed with the opportunity that social media affords emerging researchers to cultivate a voice in their field. I first shared my story of how I landed my international PhD scholarship through a Twitter connection in ‘Why you should use Twitter during your PhD’, and mused about how social media may play an even larger role in our academic careers than we realize (as an aside, today I would say: social media does play a large role in our careers – whether we want it to or not, whether we engage or not – this will become evident as you read on). I received an overwhelming response from post-graduate researchers on this post – and it soon became obvious that the common theme in these responses was that it was the sense of community and connection that draws people to social media. I also learned that those of us working in sports medicine are indeed very lucky, as our field has been an early and enthusiastic adopter of social media – and it can be disheartening for people in other fields to join the conversation eagerly, only to find that ‘I am stuck in a Twitter-desert, help!’
Personally, as a current ‘learner’, I have found that Twitter has been invaluable in facilitating connections. One of the SASMA2015 sessions discussed the concept of ‘building a network’, which can often be highly intimidating for emerging researchers to do. How do I approach someone whose work I admire? What will we talk about? Read more of this post