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BHSM: Communication Across The Lifespan: Evaluating Our Social Media Presence as SLPs

Posted by Megan Ordway, M.A. CCC-SLP on

There are many different, diverse and incredible personality types drawn to our field. Of those, I find myself being mostly “type A”, enjoying organization, autonomy, and at times, a little more serious than the average person. In our interactions with clients, patients, staff, and amongst ourselves, often our personalities are evident and can be helpful or harmful, if not given a little bit of conscious thought. I have been told by many, many clients and patients who, often view me as a quiet person, that I have a soothing, calming presence to them. I haven’t ever “tried” to be that, I just am. It has served me well, and I believe has been a part of my ability to relate to practically any type of human being that has come into my office and landed in my care.

In honor of Better Hearing and Speech Month, I want to tell you more about our mission as a company, and how each of your diverse and personal strengths can lend themselves to being the bearers of good communication. Our company, CALM, LLC, has been founded on the principal of being a resource and an uplifting presence in the field that we love. There are negative people out there that criticize the way SLPs do things, call for what SLPs need to do better, post how we are falling short or just not smart enough to do what is needed. We are not here for that. We believe that everyone has unique abilities, and sometimes, it takes time to figure out your niche. When you know better, you do better. We will always advocate for doing things the right and ethical way in the best interest of patients. We want to be a calming, soothing presence for you. Calm, LLC is comprised of an encouraging and empowering group of SLPs. We are here to help you find practical solutions and tools so you can be the best you can be.

One of the biggest thorns on the rose of our profession is social media. Sometimes there’s good content if you scan around and find those pretty blossoms, but at other times, it’s just good for a few “jabs”. Aside from the social aspect inter-professionally, there’s also the aspect that has potential to affect our employment and patients, so a few friendly reminders in the spirit of being good stewards of communication are:

  1. Don’t post specific information about a patient: HIPAA binds us to the agreement to not divulge specifics such as name, birthday, facility, etc that would encroach on the personal privacy and protected information of our patients. However, many people may lapse in judgement in posting a specific story, that could be trace-able. For example, you could post about an 89-year old patient that is new to your facility with massive stroke and needs x, y, z. A quick glance at your profile could reveal your place of employment. It’s a small town and another member of the group knows that town. They have a friend who has a grandma that just went to rehab at your facility, happens to be 89, and then they ask about how grandma is doing. Could the information relevant to a clinical scenario be given without revealing your patient’s specific needs, age, and time of arrival at your facility? Yes. Could the information about your work place be removed from your public profile? Perhaps that is a choice to consider.
  2. Be gentle with your intentions and words. Consider how you would like to be treated in a scenario. Posting another professional’s reports for critique, exercises in order to gain complaints/ammo from the masses, or using unnecessary hostility in exchanges on the internet isn’t cool. It’s not professional. We can use our words with great empathy, understanding and ability to encourage and impart wisdom without being offensive. I try to do that same thing in all of my encounters, but remember, all you post/say in print is something that can be used against you (that future employer may be in the group you are posting those not-so-nice comments to). Be wise, be kind, and be intentional.
  3. Be responsible in terms of the content that you endorse, like, share and view, especially if it is on a public profile, forum, or something as “not private” as social media. Enough said.
  4. My personal policy: no clients as “friends”. That level of exposure, sharing, and familiarity is not necessary for a professional patient/therapist relationship, and I feel that personally accepting clients as friends is crossing a line for me that I’m not comfortable with.

I hope in navigating this world of social media, you find that we truly try to be the “blossoms” in the sea of thorns. We’re here for you, and our communication with each other matters to us personally, but also professionally. In true therapist fashion, I’m trying to use my calm, soothing voice with you here today, and I hope that has come through clearly. Keep being that awesome Speech-Language Pathologist you are, never stop learning, advocate for and embody the truly remarkable communication we are capable of as professionals. Happy Better Hearing and Speech Month to all incredible SLPs out there!