First Year In Practice- Social Media and my electronic self: How will it affect my optometric career?

First Year In Practice Fridays- Part V of V
By Dr. Paul Heeg

Over the past five weeks I have had the privilege to discuss ways in which you may become better prepared in your optometric profession.  As a closing article, I would like us to do a little exercise, flashback to about 50 years ago.  Think of how optometry was in the 1960s.  How did you get to know about the latest and cutting edge concepts in the profession?  Most of it was through other leading optometric professionals in the country in the form of textbooks, articles and local optometry meetings.  Imagine if that was the only way that we could obtain insights to our profession today?  That would be pretty limited and dull.  My challenge is how are you engaging in the various ways in which resources are available today?  In the following article, I would like to take a moment and talk about all the different channels of information that we have at our fingertips.

Online Social Demographics

We live in an excellent age where we don’t have to spend a half a day in a library researching census information or going through many outdated yellow pages to see where we might want to practice.  In less than 10 seconds we can obtain both the size and the number of offices in a town via an online search engine like Google.  This type of detailed analysis is priceless and to think that at one time we did not have as easy access as we do today is mind boggling.  My goal in this article is to motivate you that this electronic presence will not only help you find a practice or area to locate in, but it will drive patients in your door.  How will you be able to do that?  Well, if you sign up for a web hosting media platform, it will create a virtual self for patients to see.   That will be a very good start to get your name out in the community.  There are many elements to this virtual self, but this could be a whole article in itself.  To keep it simple, make sure you develop a electronic profile through either a webhosting company or the practice that you work for.  You will not regret it!

Your Online Profile

Well, many of you may just have exited your undergraduate glory years where you have some pretty interesting photos that may not be the most professional.  My advice will be to get rid of them.  Any photo that your parents, spiritual leader, professor or grandparents would not want to see you in should not be online for view.  Why?  Well, very simple, a picture tells a thousand words.  Do you want a complete stranger coming to a completely wrong conclusion about who you are?  Especially if you are going to be a leader in the eye health industry.  It would not surprise me if optometry schools will start screening applicants using Google.  This will be a great way for optometry schools to see what type of character an applicant is.

Also, keep in mind that we are becoming more digitally minded as the years pass.  Whenever a patient will want to look you up, your profile information may come up.  Most Facebook photos require a “friend” to view your photos, but that certainly can change!  Any photo on Facebook is subject to Facebook’s sharing policies.  You never know what the future holds, make it a bright one.

Be Actively Engaged Online!

Remember my comparison to the 1960s in the start of this article?  Well, just as there are many more resources out there for you to use, there are many more virtual worlds for you to become connected and engaged online.  Some great examples for optometry students are AOA connect, Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn.  Let me go through each very briefly:

First is AOA connect, a great platform for Optometry professionals to be engaged in topics concerning anything from board certification to residency programs.  The more you learn from the doctors with experience, the sharper you will become.  The big difference between this and Facebook is that this is a unique community just for us.  We also have the ability to custom tailor this social media platform to our most efficient use.  What thing do you like about AOA connect?  Anything that you would like to see different about AOA connect?  Please be sure to actively participate in your professional online presence.

Second is Facebook.  Most of all you know this social media tool.  This has expanded by leaps and bounds over the past decade.  From being solely for college students to where it is today for businesses and professional organizations has really taken the site off.  Keep in mind, as this site has changed, consider changing your profile to reflect the new reach and focus of Facebook.  The great thing about Facebook is that the updates that you receive from clubs, organizations and friends is always fast, current and easy to access.

Third would be twitter.  Twitter is good to let people know what you are doing and where you are doing it.  Many businesses will post sales or promotions on twitter, as a business, the online presence is fantastic.  Keep this platform in mind for the future.

Lastly, LinkedIn is a great site for your resume and to keep professional contacts current and up to date.  Want to contact your fourth year ophthalmic neurology professor?  Now you can much easier.  Want to post your resume to doctors in the area you want to live?  LinkedIn is the answer for you.  Before Facebook became more business friendly, LinkedIn held a monopoly is this element of social media.

Eventually with active participation in social media, you will meet new people and obtain greater insights in areas that you would never have thought you would be able to.  Be encouraged and motivated with all the virtual opportunities.  We are only going to become better connected from here on out!

It was great writing these five topics over the past weeks.  Please feel free to ask any questions regarding any of the topics brought up.  All the best in the upcoming weeks of finals and holidays!


Dr. Paul Heeg

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