Virtual social groups

Nestled between pictures of friends' BBQs and cats are helpful hygiene posts, clinical questions, job opportunities, and temping vacancies.

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by Trish De Dios, RDH

Nestled between pictures of friends' BBQs and cats are helpful hygiene posts, clinical questions, job opportunities, and temping vacancies. Create an online community of hygienists in a professionally relaxed environment. This is our water cooler.

Pg40

I am fortunate to be part of a very active hygiene Facebook group that I rely on and visit almost daily to stay abreast of the ever changing buzz in the dental hygiene community.

The group, called RDH Grads from Harper College, is an exclusive-closed group created by hygienist Angela Kozak, RDH, BS, a fellow Harper College Alumni and has a current member number of 220, which continues to grow. Members are encouraged to connect, collaborate, and discuss on all topics related to dental hygiene.

According to Facebook, groups are for "people to share their common interests and express their opinion." The person creating a group decides "whether to make it publicly available for anyone to join, require administrator approval for members to join, or keep it private and by invitation only.

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Other articles by Trish De Dios

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As I have written before, I believe measures of career development include networking, knowledge sharing, and mentoring. This group provides a slice of all that -- conveniently! We all like convenience. A benefit of a virtual Facebook group is its mobile access. As many of you know, Facebook offers mobile access for smart phones. So, even on the go, information can be quickly and conveniently sourced. You get to decide how often to post. I try and post often, especially because I know it is only a matter of minutes before I have some great responses.

As a member of a group, you can use the page to suit your needs. There are members who seldom post but instead find value in reading the news feed activity. Then there are members that regularly read and respond, post photos, or create poll-like questions (see photo).

One of my favorite tools is the search option within the group. By selecting the magnifying glass at the right hand side of the page you can find all related posts on a certain topic. For example, typing "air polishing" brings up 15 organic posts by members on this topic. Clicking on one search results will expand all of the replies that were provided. However you choose to use the group is completely up to you.

Most importantly, groups serve as a tool for building awareness around various ideas. You can view a short, right-to-the-point video about creating a Facebook group here: http://www.labnol.org/internet/facebook-groups-benefits/17893/.

I recently chatted with Angela about the group she created.

Trish: What made you begin the RDH Harper Grad Group?

Angela: After graduating from Harper College in 2009, I became an active member of ADHA and began serving on the board for NSDHS as the Student Liaison to Harper College. When returning to student ADHA chapter meetings, the students always had a great deal of questions about the field of dental hygiene and life after graduation. It was shortly after FB GROUPS began to take off that I decided to create the group "RDH Grads From Harper College." There are a number of other available dental hygiene websites and groups to be active in, but none existed to create a cohesion to the amazing dental hygiene graduates from the school where I graduated.

Trish: Why did you decide to only include Harper graduates?

Angela: The idea of having a prime location to gather information from peers who have gone through the same rigorous program seemed like a source destined to be created. Only the women and men who have sustained the extensive educational training from the Harper College dental hygiene program can understand what efforts and demands it took on each one of us to become the amazing dental hygienists that have molded the professionals for the graduates of the program.

Trish: What do you like about the way users interact on the page?

Angela: As an administrator of the page I have been entertained by the way the group has taken off with the ability to communicate with each other. I love when fellow dental hygienists post photos of some of their difficult cases and can get feedback from peers. Many of the group members use the group as a source to gather feedback about new and old dental hygiene products. It's great to see fellow graduates be professional in their theories and responses to many of the postings within the group. Keeping the group exclusive has created unity for graduates of our program and provides a strong sense of school pride and student alumni.

Trish: What do you dislike about the way users interact on the page?

Angela: There's not much to say about disliking the way members use the page. Everyone has used it in a professional way. If I could make some improvements, it would be a more fluid way in the way of screening that the member is truly a graduate from the Harper College dental hygiene program. Some members have requested to add friends who did not graduate from Harper, with the argument that they are an amazing hygienist. While that is true of many non-Harper College dental hygiene grads, if the group began to accept any and all amazing dental hygienists, then the group would lose its exclusivity. There are other pages available that are less exclusive. With "RDH GRADS FROM HARPER COLLEGE" it almost feels like we know each other, like we were all in the same class. Where else on the Internet can you feel like you're part of something so special?

Angela sought a way to provide a means of knowledge sharing among peers and colleagues. The group has provided a platform for that, and serves as an information and learning center which members interact in a non-learning environment. Nestled between pictures of friends' BBQs and cats are helpful hygiene posts, clinical questions, job opportunities, and temping vacancies. Create an online community of hygienists in a professionally relaxed environment. This is our water cooler. With the volume of fresh content and the promptness of replies, the page acts as a 24-hour DHY hotline, and I have personally witnessed and reaped its benefits.

The group acts a prime example of new age knowledge sharing and professional interaction, desirable for any professional looking to develop in their field. I applaud Angela's initiative and those members of the group who contribute to our small community that welcomes all things dental hygiene. RDH

TRISH DE DIOS, RDH, graduated as president of her dental hygiene class in 2008. She currently works full-time clinically and is also a Regional Coordinator for The Oral Cancer Foundation. She can be contacted at hygienist.trish@gmail.com.

References

1. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/blog/blog.php?post=324706977130
2. Video. http://www.labnol.org/internet/facebook-groups-benefits/17893/

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