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Twitter tweet chats on the examining table: #RNchat

September 16, 2010

Now let’s look at #RNchat – no need to spell out this hashtag acronym.

RNchat is a Twitter chat for registered nurses and other healthcare professionals from around the world and is open to the public for participation. Founder Phil Baumann, a registered nurse himself, knows his audience. Because many nurses do shift-work, he chose to host RNchat at various times during the week, at different times of day.

RNchat celebrates its first-year anniversary this September and one has only to skim the RNchat archives to appreciate the wide-range of topics discussed and the dynamic exchange colleagues have shared over the past 12 months.

I had a chance to talk to Phil about RNchat’s beginnings, achievements thus far and objectives for the upcoming year.

Why did you start RNchat?
Phil Baumann:
Years ago, I was a believer in the use of micro-sharing in the clinical context, but that was when virtually nobody ever heard of Twitter. In fact, much of healthcare was lagging in the adoption of emerging communications technologies. Even today, it’s a challenge to get healthcare professionals to see the value propositions – but that’s starting to change.

I wanted to create an opportunity for nurses to most easily and simply voice themselves, share their experiences and knowledge, and network. I figured that Twitter’s intimate ambience would fit that need.

There were other chats that developed on Twitter but few – if any – were focused on providing a place on Twitter for healthcare professionals. Also, most of the Twitter chats seemed to be chats about how to use Twitter and Social Media, so I decided I wanted to use Twitter in ways that went beyond the echo chamber.

Although we discuss emerging technologies, we’re able to discuss a much wider range of topics than chats focused on social media. Because of nursing’s diversity, we’re able to discuss virtually anything, from domestic violence to drug safety to infection control to healthcare reform.

What unexpected benefits or outcomes have you seen evolve from RNchat?

PB: The interest that the chat has garnered over the year has helped nurses and other healthcare providers appreciate the value of emerging media. I think RNchat has helped demonstrate that the premise of Twitter, which is communicating in short pulses in an ambient setting, is here to stay. I’ve also noticed that a lot of nurses, who may initially have been dismissive of Twitter and other emerging media, realize the value of these media once they get involved in chats.

It seems that Twitter is a great gateway for healthcare professionals to adopt these media.

Do you think RNchat has precipitated any change in the way health is delivered?

PB: I don’t think that the chat has had that affect – and it wasn’t an expected short-term outcome.

What I do think RNchat is doing is it’s helping nurses understand that they’re not alone. Nursing is a diverse profession – one of the most perhaps – and yet nurses share a lot of common bonds. RNchat has demonstrated both the range of experience and knowledge in the profession and the sense of community that’s possible.

What are your plans for RNchat in year two?

PB: For one, I’ve been working on putting together a real-life meeting for RNchat. It’s going to be a hybrid of a traditional conference and an un-conference, and it’s called RNcamp (

I also want to groom other nurses to lead the chats. We’ve had two excellent moderators so far: Ellen Richter (@EllenRichter) and Terri Schmitt (@onlinenursing).

I’m also going to bring physicians into the Twitter chat scene – an announcement on that chat (MDchat) is forthcoming. I was actually going to launch a chat for doctors at the same time as I launched RNchat, but decided to hold off to give the physician a community a chance. But it’s been a year, and I’m not going to wait for doctors orders at this point. We need physicians involved here.

Post a comment: Send your birthday wishes to RNchat and share what you like about taking part in RNchats?

This Twitter chat series also appears on doc2doc blogs.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2010 10:15 am

    Thank you, Colleen for the interview.

    I think we’ll see an evolution not only of these media, but also the kinds of things possible.

    Eventually Twitter chats (or their future versions) will grow specialty chats.




    • September 16, 2010 12:28 pm

      My pleasure Phil.

      Let me be the first to congratulate you on #RNchat’s first-year anniversary on September 18. It is a fantastic and supportive community of sharing.

      I watch with bated breath for the birth and growth of #MDchat.


  2. September 17, 2010 11:06 am

    Nice posting. As always, great ideas and innovation from Phil. Kudos to both of you!


  3. September 17, 2010 10:04 pm

    Congrats to RNchat and Phil!! I was one of the few nurses who attended the inaugural chat in 2009. I continue to join as often as I can. RNchat has been an such an inspiration and from it came #IVchat on Twitter! Phil has been so gracious and been very helpful! Thanks Phil and Happy First anniversary!

    Cora Vizcarra (@infusionnurse)


  4. Teresa Heithaus permalink
    September 17, 2010 10:28 pm

    Congratulations Phil! Hard to believe that RNchat achieved the one year milestone already! The year has flown by quickly! Although I don’t attend as regularly as I would like, I think RNchat is terrific! BTW…can you move it back to a weekday night?!


  5. September 18, 2010 12:54 am

    Nice Exam Colleen.

    It is hard to believe a year has gone by since the first #RNchat! Phil, Ellen and Terri have done a Great job of holding the chat together long enough to allow nurses with different schedules time to find and take part in the chat. The chat transcripts posted by Phil has made a big difference and allows nurses to read the ones missed. In reading back over the transcripts, each has provided – new information, ideas, perspectives, humor and a passion for nursing. In addition, the chat has allowed relationships to be formed – all at a 140 characters a pop! – Happy Birthday #RNchat.

    I think Phil’s vision of a sense of community with #RNchat is no longer a vision – it is here now. “Go Nursing” @onlinenursing.


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