Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Profiles in Oncology Social Media: Joni Watson, MSN, MBA, RN, OCN @joniwatson

Butcher, Lola

doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000470875.47049.db


ONS Connect blog ( bio: “Joni Watson, MSN, MBA, RN, OCN®, is Director of Medical Oncology at the Baylor Scott and White Cancer Center—Hillcrest. She holds her degrees from the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas at Tyler and is a member of the Central Texas ONS chapter (CTONS). She resides in Waco, Texas, and enjoys reading, shoe shopping, and spending time with her family. You can also find Joni at”

Nursetopia blog bio: “Passionate about nurses, nursing, and the world we impact. Oncology nurse. Leader. Manager. Multifaceted; what nurse isn't?!”

Joni Watson uses Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for professional networking. And she uses Pinterest ( to spread the love for nurses, especially those who work with cancer patients.

Back to Top | Article Outline

How did you get interested in social media?

Joni Watson: “I first entered the world of social media several years ago when I attended a conference and heard about different cancer organizations using social media. I was working at the Texas Nurses Association leading its Nurse Oncology Education Program (NOEP) at the time. Texas has more than 300,000 nurses and the project worked to make sure that they know about updated cancer screening guidelines and survivorship care because more and more patients are in general health care settings. I helped move a lot of the education to online and mobile platforms, so it just seemed natural to try social networks and connect with other nurses that way.

“I use social media mostly to interact with other nurses and health care professionals, learn from them, and read the information that they're putting out to their feeds. I have learned from patients through all sort of Twitter chats—I love those. Even though I may not actively participate in them, I definitely lurk in the background and listen to what patients from all over the world are saying about various topics.”

Back to Top | Article Outline

The social media mini workshop that you helped present at this year's ONS Congress drew a packed house. How did you come to be a social media expert?

“Because I was an early adopter in my specialty of oncology nursing, people sometimes look to me as an expert, although that's not always the case just because I was one of the first ones using social media.

“When I attended the 2010 ONS Congress, there was no Twitter hashtag for the conference, so I just started using the hashtag #onsconference. And there were about seven other nurses who were tweeting at that conference, and I was able to meet almost all of them in person, which I probably would not have done without the use of that social network. I instantly felt connected to them because I knew their voices already through their tweets.

“While I was at that conference, an editor from ONS reached out and said, ‘I really like your voice. Have you ever thought about blogging?’ So I started blogging for the ONS website, which was a natural extension of Twitter, and vice versa. Five years later, I still blog for ONS and really enjoy it. I'm able to connect with nurses all over the globe through Twitter and the blogs. I've been able to meet many of them in real life; many of those relationships are true friendships now.

“My first peer-reviewed article was “The Rise of Blogs in Nursing Practice” [Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing 2012;16 (2): 215-217].

“Starting in 2011, I was one of only two nurses to serve on the first External Advisory Board for Mayo Clinic's Center for Social Media. That was a great time of learning and sharing and talking about ways to propel social media forward in health care and to not be afraid of it. Because of Mayo's work, we now have general guidelines for health care professionals who participate in social media.”

Back to Top | Article Outline

How has social media influenced your career?

“It was probably near the end of my first year of blogging that I challenged myself to write and post something every day. That really changed my habits. One blog post a day is not a whole lot, but it forced me to keep notes on topics that were interesting to me and read a lot of different resources so I would have material to write about.

“Now, because I have been blogging for so long, I am much more prepared to talk about myriad topics that come up in my professional life. Often I have already written about something that comes up, which means I have already processed what I think about it or read literature about it. So that has absolutely made me a better nurse and a better health care leader, for sure.”

Back to Top | Article Outline

Why did you start your own blog? And why do you post free printable cards that can be used for special occasions like Valentine's Day (“We go together like cisplatin and hydration”) and Certified Nurses Day (“Those credentials look mighty good on ya”)?

“My own blog came out of the fact that I felt I had more to say that maybe didn't completely fit with the ONS blog. So I started Nursetopia to focus on everything that was rolling around in my head at night about leadership theories and change management and various articles that I was reading.

“Right now, I'm really focused on encouraging the nurses around me. So a lot of the stuff on Nursetopia is about generosity and giving thanks.

“I am not a digital artist or a graphic designer. I just wanted to put graphics on my blog but I didn't want to pay for them. When I started looking for graphics and found the fonts I could download for free, I thought I could make something that fit my own personal style.

“I started playing around in PowerPoint and Publisher to make artwork for my blog, and someone said, ‘I really like this graphic. Could you make it into a card for me?’ And it sort of spun from there. Making the cards is a creative outlet for me, and I give them to people at work. If I'm creating something for someone already, to me it just makes sense to give it away and let other people benefit from it.

“I hope that one day I'm able to sell a line of cards for health care professionals. It's interesting to see how Nursetopia has shaped some of my goals and dreams and help me find things that I'm really passionate about.”

Back to Top | Article Outline

What advice do you have for health care professionals who have not yet explored social media?

“Don't try to consume all of the information that comes to you on social media. Nurses, especially those new to the social media platforms, often think they have to read everything coming through their feed. And I remember feeling that way, too, as I joined social media platforms: How am I going to fit this into my life? I already have a stack of journals on the corner of my desk.

“The intent is just to take sips of information from the fire hydrant that is the social media feed, and use it to your benefit. And connect with other people—that's another point that I hope people glean. I've come across numerous health care professionals that just push information out through their feeds and don't really engage in conversation. I feel like people are missing a huge aspect of the social media tools when they aren't engaged in that social aspect.”

Back to Top | Article Outline

Continuing Series

The full archive of this award-winning series can be found in this Collection on the OT website:

Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.
Home  Clinical Resource Center
Current Issue       Search OT
Archives Get OT Enews
Blogs Email us!