Community pharmacists are seeking support from peers on Twitter to help overcome a feeling of isolation in their profession.
In October 2015, the chief executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), Duncan Rudkin, said an online discussion revealed pharmacists to be ‘lonely’ and ‘isolated’.
“There seems to be a real hunger to connect with colleagues, to get the benefit of discussion and feedback,” Rudkin said.
So could social networking provide an answer?
The team behind the Twitter support group WeCommunities certainly think so.
The Pharmacist dropped by the social media village at digital healthcare show EHI Live to ask WeCommunities co-founder Nick Chinn what it is all about.
Chinn said: “It was started three years ago by a nurse who wanted to connect to other nurses, she felt isolated and wanted the ability to talk and connect with other nurses.
“It transpired lots of nurses in full-time, traditional roles also wanted to talk too so they started tweet chatting.”
The group led by @WeNurses meet on Twitter and use the hashtag #WeNurses label to discuss a topic.
Users can search #WeNurses to read the latest comments from their peers and join the debate themselves by adding the label to their own tweets.
Chinn said: “The nurses kicked it off but then the community spread, the pharmacists and the midwives said they would like to do that so now we have 16 communities.
“Pharmacists are pretty isolated so they use it to share best practice, to support each other, it’s a really positive peer empathy network.
“It’s all on Twitter so it’s all open and free so people get to see it happening and it’s very much community based and community driven.”
All of the online chats are hosted by volunteer healthcare professionals who believe in connecting people and sharing information and expertise to improve patient care.
Chin said: “It’s cracking along quite nicely really.
“The nurses have about 30,000 interactions a month via the nursing community and the pharmacists are the second largest group and are catching up fast.
“It’s a genuine community space.”
Pharmacists meet on Twitter on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 8pm.
You can use the hashtag #WePh to join the discussion, follow @WePharmacists for updates or find out more at WeCommunities.org.