Five things I learnt from completing the Physiopedia volunteer orientation

This guest post has been written by one of our new graduates from the Physiopedia volunteer orientation programme. George finished my MSc Physiotherapy (pre-reg) degree in Southampton in January 2016 and has recently started his first physiotherapy job at Whipps Cross Hospital in East London. You can find George on twitter @plasticphysio.  Over to George….

This January 2016, Rachael Lowe and her team welcomed a new cohort of volunteers to Physiopedia. Having used the website during my studies I was keen to get involved, so I signed up.

As part of a group of physiotherapists and physiotherapy students, from across the globe, we convened online to chat, share and discuss our contributions to the Physiopedia wiki. Our efforts were focussed on completing a set of tasks which introduced us to the core skills required of a volunteer.

Within the first week it became obvious that everyone in the group was friendly and positive about being involved in the Physiopedia community. As we developed our skills and became more confident we concentrated on making the website a better place for all who access it. It was apparent that the course, and volunteering, were both great learning opportunities.

I am going to share the top five things that I learnt during the four week orientation to the world of Physiopedia. I’ll also share my contribution to the final week’s task.

Top 5

  1. Physiotherapy is an international profession and Physiopedia has international contributors.

When I first joined I was pleasantly surprised to see so many different nationalities. Most of the content that I have been able to access during my studies has been from the UK, America, and Australia. It was refreshing to see ideas from other countries. I am interested to learn from my international colleagues about how physiotherapy is done in different social, cultural and economic situations.

I am hopeful that learning from the international community can inform my practice, in the UK. The popularity of certain assessment and treatment techniques may differ from country to country, discussion could identify reasons for this. It also provides an opportunity to access literature that may not have been published in English.

  1. There is plenty of support for those new to editing wikis, so always ask for help, suggestions and advice.

I can’t emphasise enough how friendly everyone was on the course. When problems were raised there was a real team atmosphere. Support and ideas were provided from various members of the group who had, prior experience, had encountered a similar problem, or just had a helpful suggestion.

When questions arose, we were often directed to the user tutorial pages, which provide step-by-step guides to tasks such as editing pages, adding images and references. These will become available to you once you log-in as a contributor to Physiopedia.

Feedback and direction was provided throughout the course by Rachael and her colleagues, which helped us all improve our work. I received the following feedback during Week 3:

It’s important that we have good information on the site, if it needs updating and improving then it needs to be done. Where possible try to retain work done by previous editors that is good, but if it is wrong or out of date then it needs to go.

I was able to action this by being more confident when reviewing what others had already done. More about this later.

  1. It’s a great revision tool for students and newly qualified physiotherapists.

I wish I had gotten involved during my studies. I have found myself dusting off the cobwebs of my anatomy and physiology books since starting as a junior physio this March. I guess the old mantra, ‘use it or lose it’ is relevant here. During the volunteer course I was able to link up my revision with my contributions, for example, I reviewed gluteus medius and gastrocnemius articles.

Here’s the thing, in creating new articles and reviewing the work of others, you are provided with an exercise which simultaneously enables you to gain new knowledge and revisit old subjects. I have often struggled to know where to start when it comes to revision, especially anatomy. Working on an article provides you with a direction – you need to find the latest, most up-to-date information and literature to create a quality article. Your work can benefit your studies as well as the physiotherapy community.

  1. Get used to having your work deleted, edited, shortened, or rearranged.

This takes getting used to.

If it is wrong or out of date then it needs to go.

Physiopedia is a collaborative process with the goal of having the most current information available at the point of access. It was an odd feeling to have some of my work edited, as it was content that I felt I owned and worked hard to create. However, through a process of peer review, the strengths and weakness of your work can be ironed out to form an article that is accessible and understandable to all.

My advice is that it is worth keeping notes or a copy of your work which could make a nice addition to your CPD folder. Another tip is that if you are editing an article, report a summary of your changes in the discussion tab, as this will allow other users to be informed of your reasoning for the changes that you have made.

  1. There is more to the Physiopedia project than just the wiki.

The wiki is a great resource that is expanded everyday (follow us on twitter and like the Facebook group for updates) but there is much more to Physiopedia.

In becoming a volunteer you will gain access to the premium content, which is a brilliant tool for continued professional development and education. There are plenty of incentives to hit the books, such as badges and a points system.

The Physiospot blog provides articles on all things Physiopedia, research, opinions and the physiotherapy news. I recently enjoyed reading the following articles: Good Bye Hip Precautions, Hello Mobility, Using Physics to Increase Glute Med Activity, The way we publish in journals is changing.

Week 4 Contribution

Below is a link to my contribution for the final task, where I was required to demonstrate my suitability for the role of content editor. Watching it now, it’s hard not to cringe, but I hope it at least puts a smile on your faces and gives you a little insight into the orientation course.

Since completing the orientation course, I have become involved in editing the anatomy content. We are currently out-ranked on google by Wikipedia, I want to change this!

I hope I have given you an insight into the orientation process and either sparked an interest or convinced some of the physio community into getting involved. Look out for the improved anatomy content coming soon.