Saturday, April 24, 2010

Program for the Virtual International Day of the Midwife 5 May 2010

Deborah Davis and I are very pleased to announce the final program for the Virtual International Day of the Midwife 5 May 2010.

The program for this free, international online conference can be found here:

We have only two slots left if you wish to make an live online presentation or facilitate a discussion - 6am and 11am 6th May (New Zealand time), so please let us know ASAP if you wish to be involved.


Topics include clinical and professional development issues, a drop-in session for students, tales of the unexpected with Nicky Leap, discussions about how to manage shortages of midwives and updates about midwifery all over the world.

All the live sessions will be recorded and posted on the VIDM wiki so you can listen later if you cannot attend at the time.

Meeting room
Instructions for how to use the virtual meeting room (Elluminate) can be found here:

Seats will be limited so make sure you get there in plenty of time.

Have a look here if you want a few tips with setting up the Elluminate room in your facility or hospital. If you're having trouble accessing Elluminate in your hospital/institution with a firewall /proxy issue, ask your IT people to open traffic to

We are still looking for facilitators for the live sessions, so if you are familiar with web conferencing and online communication and would like to help out in this way, please contact Deborah or myself - if you look at the program you can see the time slots that need a facilitator.

Deborah and I would like to thank our unofficial organising committee and facilitators:
Carolyn Hastie, Pauline Costins, Pamela Harnden, Carolyn McIntosh, Sue Hickton, Chris Woodhouse.

We'd also like to thank the Otago Polytechnic Educational Development Centre for providing free access to Elluminate.

And finally, a huge thank you to the speakers and presenters who have made this program such an exciting one

If you have any queries about any thing, please feel free to contact Deborah (Deborah.Davis(at) or myself

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wanted - facilitators for the Virtual International Day of the Midwife 5 May 2010

The Virtual International Day of the Midwife is nearly here - 5th May, 2010, starting 12pm New Zealand time. We have a fabulous program sorted with a range of topics, speakers and technologies - you can find the program here.

Needing facilitators
What we are looking for now are people who would like to take part by being facilitators in the live sessions offered in the Elluminate meeting room. If you have a look at the program, you will see the slots where we need people to help us.

Who can be a facilitator?
Ideally we are looking for midwives or nurses who have an interest and knowledge of the topic, but having said that, you could also be an interested health consumer or educator.

What we do require is that you have access to a computer and headset, that you can use Elluminate on your computer, and you feel confident with online communication and have a reasonable level of ability to handle technology.

The Elluminate meeting room is open now and available for you to have a play and orientate yourself to it. Instructions on how to use Elluminate can be found here.

What do facilitators have to do?
As facilitators what you'd be expected to get in touch with the speaker you have offered to support before the 5th May and make sure they have access to Elluminate and everything is working as it should - this includes checking that any PowerPoint presentations work correctly.

On the day we will ask you to:
  • support the speaker, introduce her, keep her to time, facilitate discussion (make sure people get the chance to ask questions etc), summarize the discussion and end the session at 10 minutes before the hour - this gives the next speaker time to set up etc
  • orientate participants, tell them how to use Elluminate and support them as they set up their microphones and speakers
  • record the session
  • deal with basic technological issues
  • remind people how/where they get their certificates of attendance
  • remind participants how to access the evaluation survey.
If you think you'd be interested in taking part as a facilitator, please let me know.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The preciousness of life

On Wednesday, I was driving to work at about 8am and thinking about my next blog post. I decided I would pay tribute to Adam Hall. Adam is a young man from Dunedin who has overcome spina bifida to become New Zealand's only gold medalist at the 2010 Winter ParaOlympics.

In particular, I was going to focus on Gayle, Adam's mother. Gayle has supported Adam with huge enthusiasm over the years and is his number one fan. At the same time, Gayle did her midwifery degree and has practiced as a midwife in Dunedin for some years - I was privileged to be one of her midwifery lecturers at Otago Polytechnic. Gayle didn't find it easy to become a midwife, but the one thing I can say about Gayle was that she was bloody-minded and never gave up. She has obviously has passed this onto her son.

Just a mere nine hours later as I was driving home I heard the terrible news that Gayle had been killed in a car accident that morning. I am so happy that Gayle got to see Adam achieve his life's dream. At the same time I am reminded of the fragility and ephemeral nature of life.

The lesson Gayle passes on is to grasp life with both hands and give it all you have got - never be put down, and never let other people or adversity keep you from achieving your dreams. Gayle has left me with an indelible lesson about the preciousness of life and how you must live each day with all the energy you can muster.

My heart goes out to Gayle's family, in particular Adam, Lindsay and Mikaeyla. And as for the Dunedin midwifery community, we have lost a bright and shining star.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Needing help to test an evaluation survey for the Virtual International Day of the Midwife

The Virtual International Day of the Midwife is here in just over three weeks. In order to be able to write up the event and outcomes in a reputable journal afterward, I need to evaluate the event, and the easiest way to do that is to ask participants to answer a quick, online survey. It's suddenly dawned on me that I need approval from my institution ethics (IRB) committee pretty quickly.

So long story short, I'd really appreciate some feedback on this survey that I have developed - here is the link to the survey. Please feel free to make up some answers and work your way through the form.
  • How did you find the questions - were they easy to understand and answer?
  • How did you find the flow of the questions - did they appear to be in a logical order?
  • Were there any questions you would edit or delete?
  • Was there any spelling or grammer mistakes?
  • Are there any questions I should add to the survey?
  • How long did it take you to complete the survey?
Thank you very much :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How to bring the Virtual International Day of the Midwife to your hospital or facility

I have had a few midwives ask how they can hook up to the Virtual International Day of the Midwife on 5th May in the hospital and facility where they work, so that midwives can dip in and out of sessions when it suits them. Here's a few thoughts and tips if you are planning to do exactly that.

The vast amount of sessions are being offered in Elluminate, which is a web conference program - the meeting room has been kindly donated by the Education Development Centre, Otago Polytechnic. Elluminate doesn't take much to run, but you will need Java on your computer before you can open up the Elluminate meeting room - click here for more information about how to check you have Java on your computer.

The other thing that could stop you running Elluminate is your hospital or facility's firewall (security settings). My advice is to talk to your IT support and ask them to check that Java is on your computer and the firewall will let you get into the Elluminate meeting room.

Internet access
Elluminate even runs on dial up internet connection, although it can take longer load up. Here are some instructions on how to use Elluminate on a dial-up connection.

If there is only one or two of you sitting around a computer, you should be able to hear adequately. But if there is going to be a few people, I would recommend that you plug speakers into your computer so you all can hear the presentations.

If you work in a bigger hospital and have a conference room with a computer linked to the internet, you will be able to get more people to see what's going on if you project the sessions onto the wall or a screen.

If you do not have a microphone, you will be able to hear what's going on, and you will be able to communicate with other participants using the 'chat' text box. However, if you wish to speak and join in with audio, you will need a microphone.

You can buy very cheap headsets with microphones. If you are sharing a computer with a number of people, all you need to do is plug the mic into the computer and share it around when someone wants to speak.

Setting up the audio and microphone
Once you are in the meeting room, you will need to check that you can hear and that your microphone works - click here for information on how to use the audio wizard that will walk you though how to set up your audio and mic.

Having a play
My advice is that you have a 'play' and try out Elluminate before the 5th May, so you can make sure everything is working beforehand. The meeting room is always open for you to try it out - click here to go to the meeting room.

Detailed instructions of how to download Elluminate can be found on the Virtual Day of the Midwife website. Instructions on how to use Elluminate when you get into the room can be found here.

If you have any further queries about how to use Elluminate, or would like to meet someone in the meeting room to test things out, please let me know.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Facebook for midwives: how to enjoy Facebook and stay out of trouble

It is clear that Facebook is becoming increasingly popular with midwives as a way of networking, communicating and sharing information. But midwives have also been getting into trouble on Facebook. There are concerns in some professional quarters about a perceived increase in conversations about clients, patients and colleagues that breach legal and professional confidentiality requirements.

So how can midwives be 'professional' in Facebook but still have fun? Here are a few thoughts, comments and tips.

1. Think carefully about how you want to use your Facebook account
Do you want it to be a professional page where you clearly identify yourself as a midwife, maybe to attract or communicate with clients? Or, do you just want to hang out with friends and family? Even if you are not using your account in a professional capacity, be mindful all the time what you are doing...who you are linking to...who you are becoming friends with...what pages and groups you link to.

2. Pay attention to your privacy settings
Remember that the default privacy settings for Facebook are now open, so you may wish to re-visit your settings and restrict access to the people you choose to be friends with. But remember, even with the most restricted access your 'friends' can still take screen shots of what you have said or done.

3. Pay attention to what you say or do
You cannot beat this advice...every time you post a comment, or upload a video or photo, imagine that your midwifery lecturer, manager or a patient has seen it...have a think about what would they think or say.

4. Six degrees of separation
The world is a very small place and even smaller in Facebook. So your comment may very quickly wing its way beyond your immediate circle of friends to someone you would rather not hear about it.

5. Remember that you can be tagged by others
This point is very similar to the previous one. You have no control over what others upload onto Facebook. So that photo of you doing the 'funky chicken' dance at your birthday party may end up on Facebook and you are not even aware of it.

6. Responding to criticism
Never get into a slanging match with clients about your midwifery actions or performance, even if you feel you are being slandered. In my opinion, you are better off completely ignoring negative comments. However, if you feel you are being unfairly treated and are in danger of having your professional reputation endangered, seek advice from your professional organization - it will be able to advise you about how to proceed.

7. NEVER talk about clients, patients or colleagues on Facebook without their express permission.
This includes up loading photos or videos.

8. Think about who you accept as your 'friend'
It's worth considering whether you should accept friendship with clients or patients - are there professional boundaries that you are crossing? Do you really want them to know the ins and outs of your private life? How do you feel about the merging of your private and professional lives?

9. Giving out professional midwifery information and advice
Have a think about the possible legal ramifications of giving midwifery advice and information to pregnant women - is it appropriate to be giving that information online, or would you be better to have a face-to-face consultation?

10. If in doubt, don't do it

If you are not sure about the comment you are about to make or photo you are about to upload, just don't do it to be on the safe side. Be sure you know what your professional and legal obligations are so you know you are not breaching any rules or regulations set down by law, professional body or employer by your actions on Facebook.

11. Concerns about Facebook
Be aware that there are widespread concerns about Facebook. There are a number of campaigns to encourage people to leave Facebook because of the owner's attitude to privacy and personal information, as well as the difficulty in deleting an account. Ask yourself if and why you want a Facebook account, and think about alternative options for networking. (Here are instructions for deleting your Facebook account).

Having said all that, I do believe Facebook is a great place for connecting and informing midwives, and I actively encourage midwives to engage with Facebook and other social media. So don't be put off using Facebook......give someone a poke...join a mafia war but follow that immortal advice from Hill Street Blues...

..."Let's be careful out there"...

What tips or comments would you make about midwives or any other health professional using Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc?

12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally
. Judi Sohn.

Managing Facebook as a Mental Professional. Keely Kolmes.

The Facebook Guidebook. Mashable.

Should you 'friend' your doctor on Facebook? Elizabeth Cohen.

How to use social networking sites safely. Jo Carlowe.

Image: 'Be careful!' Samout3

Midwives and Facebook

I have spent a lot of time over the years moaning about how midwives do not engage with online communication, learning or collaboration. And as those of you who follow this blog know, it is my not-so-hidden agenda to introduce midwives to social media and social networking through events such as the Virtual International Day of the Midwife. What I have come to realise over the last few weeks is that midwives are using the one social networking tool that I have a love-hate relationship with.............Facebook.

How midwives use Facebook
When you look around Facebook you realise midwives are all over the place. 'Midwifery Today' has over 10,000 fans, The American College of Nurse-Midwives has 2,000 fans and the Australian College of Midwives has 400 group members. Even the Virtual International Day of the Midwife has 870 fans. And don't forget the special interest groups that have midwifery association such as I Support Every Australian Womans Right To Choose Where She Gives Birth group which has nearly 5,000 members and ICAN with 1,300 fans.

Using Facebook for good...
Clearly there is huge potential to use Facebook to disseminate information, network and organize campaigns. If Facebook is the one social media tool that midwives engage with on a regular basis, professional organizations such as the New Zealand College of Midwives and the International Confederation of Midwives cannot afford to ignore it.

...and evil

At the same time, there is an unfortunate propensity for people to forget themselves on Facebook. We've all heard the stories about people being sacked because of what they have said on Facebook, and I for one are always reminding my children that future employers may check their Facebook profiles before they employ them.

Unprofessional behavior
According to the New Zealand College of Midwives (NZCOM), there is a 'mushrooming' of incidents where midwives have been talking inappropriately about women and colleagues on Facebook and similar forums. This has the unfortunate effect of negating the good work that is done on Facebook and giving it a bad name to midwives' professional bodies such as NZCOM.

Ultimately, Facebook is a communication tool just like any other online communication tool...and is only as good as the people who use it.

Tips for using Facebook
In my next post I'll pass on some tips about how to enjoy Facebook but keep out of trouble on a professional level.

What tips for using Facebook would you like to suggest?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Businesses and social media - a few tips from the customer

I have been noticing lately an increase in local Dunedin businesses starting to use social media, in particular Twitter and Facebook. I don't usually follow businesses on social media but I have been taking notice of what's going on because of the development work I am currently doing in the 'Facilitating Online' course which will be aimed at people in businesses and non-profit organizations as well as education later this year.

Selling me your business
I have been observing good and 'bad' practice over the last few weeks which has got me thinking about social media practice in business. There is heaps of information on the Internet about social media for businesses, including this short article from Sam Schuurman on how to use a Facebook fan page. The question is: does any of the advice work in terms of building a brand and increasing your customer base?

So if you are a business or 'personality' who wants to get into social media, here are a few tips from my point of view as a customer or potential customer.

1. Do your homework first
The other day I sent several messages to a business via Twitter. When I heard nothing back, I got on my high-horse and told them I didn't appreciate being ignored. The answer back to me was that the person at the other end didn't realise they had to reply to me. This did not really make sense to me because I assume that a business would not ignore a person in a face-to-face content...

Anyway, this was poor practice in my mind, and as the old adage goes...there's one thing worse than having no Twitter account...and that is having a poorly managed Twitter account.

2. Social media or social networking is all about being SOCIAL!!!

This means you talk to your customers and engage in conversations - you do not ignore them, and you do NOT use your Twitter account or Facebook page for doing nothing more than sending out adverts about your product or service. This will be perceived as spam and you will be completely ignored by customers.

3. Don't confuse social media with a website
This really relates back to the previous point. If all I want is information, I will go to your website. The reason I follow you on Facebook or Twitter is because I want a more personal connection, and two way conversation with you.

4. Put a personal 'face' to your online presence
I like to know a little about the person or people behind the brand. That doesn't mean I want to know the nitty gritty of everything you do. But a human touch means a lot to me, and helps me to feel I have a connection with you...which means I am more likely to buy your service or product.

5. Be inclusive
I have been following @durablegraphics on Twitter - this is Michael McQueen who is a strategic branding & signage company. Micheal has made me feel part of his network. He always talks to me, gives me personal replies and has gone out of his way to develop a online community around his product which I feel a part of. I don't think he's going to make his fortune out of me, but he is the first person I think of when I am recommending a service in his field.

6. Do you have the appropriate equipment to match the online communication tool?
I started following a New Zealand personality on Twitter a few weeks ago. I went to see his live show, and spoke to him face-to-face afterwards. I went home and sent quite a few messages praising his work - free publicity for him. He didn't reply...and I felt ignored...and unfollowed him. Eventually, he replied to say he lost track of what was happening on Twitter because he only had his phone so could only send out messages, not receive them.

You might say that this story is a poor reflection on me...that I am turning into a grumpy old cow...and you may well be right. My comment about this story is that if you want to use Twitter to build a following for professional or economic 'gain', you must make sure you have the right equipment to keep up with what's going on.

7. Are you using the relevant communication tool?
I tend to think of Twitter as being a synchronous tool and Facebook as more of an asynchronous communication channel. I do not think there is any point using Twitter if you cannot monitor your account at least once a day and reply to comments. If you can only get on the Internet once or twice a week, you may be better off having a Facebook account to communicate with customers. When I use Twitter, I expect an almost instant reaction (or reaction within 24 hours) to messages I send to people- when I don't get it, I 'unfollow' that person.

8. Integration with 'real life'
In my mind, another successful user of social media is James Hacon, the manager of the St Clair Resort in Dunedin. James always comments and replies to people on Twitter and Facebook. The other thing he does really well is integrates social media with real life - he uses social media to connect with people and then follows that up with real life, face-to-face interactions. He has done this with me, and now I am feeling loyal to his 'brand' - and in practice this means I always go to his restaurant for my morning coffee, instead of the cafe down the road.

9. Making the time and effort
All this interaction, connecting and community-development takes times and effort. If you do not have the commitment or ability to do this, then I suggest you find another way of building your customer base. I do not owe you anything...indeed, I can very easily go somewhere else for the product or service. But if you make that effort to connect with me, I will become loyal to about you...advertise your products/services...recommend you to my own networks and communities. It is up to you to decide what this is worth to you and your business.

What do you think about these tips? Am I being a grumpy old woman or is there some truth in what I say. What tips would you give about using social media for business purposes? If you are a business, what have you found works well?

Image: 'crawfordmarketcarrotman' Rigmarole