We live in a world that is blazing with advancements in technology. Computers keep getting smaller and phones keep getting bigger. It has become far more difficult to maintain privacy, yet far easier and convenient to entertain ourselves. The internet is no longer something new and exotic that is only used by the rich and powerful.
Now, nearly everyone has access to it in one form or another. Most people now carry it with them conveniently as another app on their phones. We now must ask ourselves, how are we to use such a valuable resource? We surely could simply use it purely for our entertainment purposes, or we could take advantage of it from a business and networking perspective.
Social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook, have given us a platform to introduce ourselves to the public in ways that were unprecedented, while also allowing businesses and individuals additional ways to market themselves and their respective skills.
When I first started my undergraduate degree, Facebook was still very young and had just started to emerge on the college scene. As a matter of fact, in order to sign up for a Facebook account, it was necessary that you have a college email. Facebook was originally designed to help students at any given college network among themselves as a group. Today, the website has gone global and there are no longer set parameters for a new account to be open. Although Facebook feeds are now filled with advertisements and pesky game requests, it is still designed to help people network with each other, and one of the versatile tools that can be used is the option of setting up groups. This option allows a person to set up a smaller forum or page, specifically for a purpose.
An example can be seen here at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico (IAUPR). For each class, a Facebook page is set up and designed so that you must be a student in that particular class to join and view that page. Yet another example of this, is the popular page named “ODs on Facebook”.
ODs on Facebook is the profession’s largest and most engaging forum. It was created and founded by Alan Glazier, O.D. Dr. Glazier started the group ODs on Facebook almost as an accident, as he initially wanted to create a personal group of contacts on his own Facebook page that would solely be comprised of the ODs he was friends with. This would serve as an easier way to make contact with other optometrists and have relevant discussions of topics related to the profession without having to search through loads of forums.
What he didn’t know was that the ODs he had added to the group would enjoy the thought of such a group forum so much, they started to invite other optometrists to join. In only a short amount of time, ODs on Facebook now has nearly 20,000 members consisting of optometrists, optometry students, opticians, executives in the eye care industry, and ophthalmic professionals. Topics discussed range anywhere from differential diagnosis opinions needed by ODs to updated information concerning the field, such as the new Opternative online exam website or the recent purchase of Vision Source by Essilor.
There are posts that tell of heartwarming stories a person might have experienced in the clinic that day, and there are posts concerning obstacles that were brought to the attention of a certain OD on a particular day. Some of these obstacles can be in the form of problems such as insurance reimbursements, while others may simply be an experience with one of “those patients.” Either way, if you have a question or concern, the chances are high you can find an answer on ODs on Facebook!
So how can we as optometry students take full advantage of such a group? Well, the first step is to ask to join the group! By sending a request to join, Dr. Glazier will look to see that you are a student and will add you, no questions asked. The next steps are completely up to you. There is a vast amount of knowledge concerning the profession in the group, a lot of which will not be taught in a classroom; and it is solely up you to choose what to do with it. Looking to challenge yourself with some interesting clinical cases? Type “#TFT” into the search bar of the group and the search will filter your results to every obscure case in the group. Look at the photos, read the posts, ask questions, and network with other members. The more engaged you are, the more you will learn, and ultimately the better doctor you will become.
Editor’s Note: And be sure to “like” the AOSA on Facebook and follow @theaosa on Twitter and Instagram!