Amy Colver, LCSW
Melody Griffith, MSW, LMSW, OSW-C
AOSW Communications Director
Jeanice Hansen, LCSW, OSW-C
To submit a story or information for inclusion in a future issue of AOSW Newsletter, contact Amy Colver or Melody Griffith on the list above.
Director’s Report: Communications
Communication is the art of transmitting thoughts, feelings and facts from one entity to another. It is a two-way experience of both sending and receiving information that can be written, verbal, electronic—even visual or tactile. As social workers, we practice this art daily. The art of effective communication is now more important than ever, especially in today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment. So, in this vein, I want to explain how we are striving to improve the effectiveness of our internal communications (SWON and Kentico Communities) and our external (public) communication pathways (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, AOSW blog).
SWON—SWON is the major artery of internal communications within AOSW. This very active listserv allows members to engage in clinical and resource-oriented conversations with peers from across the globe—almost instantly. Some members actively participate with questions and answers, while others just read. Both are great ways to absorb much of the information shared on this listserv. SWON, however, has its drawbacks; posts can quickly slip from view and get “lost” if it is a busy traffic day, it is not possible to “pin” posts and attachments can’t be accepted. In addition, members complain that too often their mail boxes get flooded with posts and replies, or the daily digest form is bulky and cumbersome to read through. The platform that currently hosts SWON is old technology as far as listservs go. SWON requires the oversite of two dedicated volunteers to monitor the site a minimum of five days per week—that’s a lot of people power! As your Communication Director (and former SWON co-moderator), I’ve heard both the praises and complaints about SWON.
AOSW also supports a variety of social media streams—Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. These social media streams are both internal and external in that non-AOSW members can both follow and access these platforms. They are great for sharing important oncology social work and healthcare information with AOSW members and the public. Twitter and Facebook (and SWON) were very active in sharing highlights from our recent Annual Conference.
For AOSW to make an impact on oncology social work and healthcare we must have a loud, clear public voice. Communication via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is vital to this effort. In fact, if you are not already following at least one of these streams I encourage you to do so. We have a small army of dedicated volunteers whose jobs it is to keep the information shared on these platforms timely and relevant. However, new platforms are constantly being created and, as an organization, AOSW needs to keep abreast of where today’s professionals are going for reliable information. So, as these communication platforms evolve, so too will AOSW’s usage habits.
So what is the plan for improving the effectiveness of AOSW’s communication? As Communication Director, I am working closely with AOSW’s management team at Kellen to take a deeper dive into the Kentico Communities to learn exactly what they can and cannot do, and determine how well they can meet the needs of AOSW. I will also be looking at ways in which SWON can evolve so that in time this vital communication platform can be a more modern, efficient and helpful tool.
AOSW also needs to re-establish a public blog. Sarah Conning, AOSW’s Advocacy Director, and her team have a forum to keep both the membership and public abreast of AOSW’s position on the proposed changes in healthcare law and other topics relevant to oncology social work. The re-establishment of a public blog is being collaboratively explored by the staff at Kellen, Sarah and myself. And finally, AOSW, with the help of my team of tech and trend savvy Communication Volunteers, will strive to make sure that AOSW has an active, professional presence on all relevant social media streams.
Communications is a two-way event. I hope this summary lends some clarity to how both internal and external AOSW communications are currently functioning and where AOSW is looking to take them in the future. If you have any thoughts you want to share about what’s working, what isn’t or where you think our communication effects need to be focused, please reach out to me directly. As Communication Director, I want to both send and receive!
About the Author
Andrea Karoff, MSW, LCSW, OSW-CCoordinator, Psychosocial Oncology
Creticos Cancer Center, Advocate Illinois Medical Center