Twitter with Andrea Kovalsky

Andrea Kovalsky uses Twitter a lot as an Athletic Trainer.

Why do you use social media for sports medicine?

  • I was professionally socialized by Boomer ATs, so I’m a bit old school. But working on a relatively nontraditional DAT, I’ve learned that we have to embrace change and make it work for us before we get left behind. If social media is how future generations consume information and interact with the world, then it has to be a part of how we advocate and move the profession forward. Otherwise, we’re losing out on engaging with a huge audience.  
  • There is just so much information out there, it’s impossible to read & digest everything coming out of sports medicine today. I like the short snippets that social media provides so that I can decide whether I want to read the whole article/study later
  • Journal subscriptions are expensive! I’m completing a DAT at FIU right now, but I joke that I’m only there for access to the university’s library databases (PS: If we want preceptors to encourage clinical students to practice EBP, we must give preceptors access to the university library databases as a form of payment for the work they do!)

What have you taken from Social Media?

  • Like the disclosure slide that no one pays attention to in CEU presentations: my opinions may not be those of my employer, and use this information with caution! 
  • Take everything with a grain of salt: Who is the speaker? What’s their background? What’s their motivation for posting this? Are they blowing off steam, subtweeting someone, or looking for genuine engagement? If they are looking to engage, are they open to learning, or will any discourse make them dig in further? Know when to disengage.
  • We have such a diverse community on #ATtwitter. There are a lot of positives as well as some challenges. It’s also helpful to bring those connections to the real world, though. The life we present online is often much rosier than real life, but real life is where things get done. Advocating on social media and living it are two different things. I try to be the same person online as off.

How has it helped?

  • Probably wouldn’t have survived lockdown without finding AT friends online
  • Learning new clinical techniques, hearing about research before it’s published
  • Another avenue to get questions answered & reach people in power
  • Got our new practice act language passed!
  • Helps me survive as a solo AT: venting, troubleshooting, connecting with others who get my jokes

Has it been harmful or negative for you at all?

  • There will always be trolls and misinterpretation of context, which is how messages get blown out of proportion
  • Probably mildly addicted, but who isn’t? (It’s also kinda my job to be on socials, so I use that excuse)

How do you manage Twitter?

  • Tweetdeck is a lifesaver, but there are dozens of paid and free social media managing apps out there
  • Add relevant images as much as possible, it boosts your visibility
  • Use a link-shortener like when you reach a character limit
  • Don’t just post a link to other content, post a quote or short explanation
  • Ask a question, and state something poignant if you want people to engage
  • Best engagements happen when you post in the morning
  • My NATM is often not the theme: 2022 was #ATgratitude, and 2023 was #auscultATe.  IATA’s 2022 was #FlatAT (had so much fun with that!)
  • I do use ATCAnonymous, but only when I need to reach a wider audience than what I have, with a legitimate question. Not a fan of anonymous accounts. Why? Listen to Kutz & Konin’s Leadercast episode 15: Anonymity & leadership
  • Socrates said: “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” There’s enough shit in the world. Be kind.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Which platforms do you use and why?

  • Fewer and fewer nowadays! The real world is too busy (FT job, FT doctoral student, serving on 2 boards & a committee, and like to cook and run)
  • Facebook, b/c I'm a millennial
  • Twitter for AT stuff
  • I assist in managing the IATA Instagram, but I don’t have a personal account
  • I had a Snapchat for a week, and didn’t get it, so I deleted it
  • Looking into Medium as a place to read articles
  • Definitely not TikTok! I don’t need my students finding me.

What has your HR or legal department given you for guidelines?

What connections have you made through social media?

  • The Mark D’Anza story: LT hoodie
  • Road trip to Rock Island, IL: Augustana, Shakespeare in the park, and Denise
  • Crashed at Hopper’s on the way home from an epic road trip a few summers ago; got some amazing Texas BBQ
  • Downstate IL ATs….who got me the job I have now
  • SSATs: I have helmet stickers from at least a dozen states. I’ve gotten beer & tea from Ohio, a poker chip from Vegas, and lapel pins from New York
  • How I decided to do a DAT!

Call to action:

  • My mantra: Lead with Compassion.
    • Lead: Don’t follow. Don’t do it just because everyone else is doing it. Do it because it means something to you. And don’t be afraid to do something that no one else is doing! 
    • Lead: when there’s so much coming at you at once and you don’t know where to start, start with compassion. Don’t start with aggression or frustration or anger. 

…with compassion: Have compassion for not only others, but yourself. Everyone is going through or has gone through stuff, even the ones that look like they have it all together. If someone is mean to you, it’s a reflection of who they are, not you, so give them the compassion they need. There are enough “-isms” out there (racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, etc.). Try compassion instead!!!

Andrea Kovalsky

Twitter: ATCAndrea

Jeremy – MrJeremyJackson