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Events / Health / Social media

A worldwide nursing ‘mutual aid’ conference is happening on Twitter this week

And Penn School of Nursing Director of Innovation Marion Leary is one of the local organizers of the conference.

Jefferson Health workers at a COVID-19 mobile testing site in April 2020. (Photo via

This editorial article is a part of's Healthcare Technologies Month of our editorial calendar.

Though most professional conferences set to happen this spring were either canceled or turned virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic, sharing information — especially within the healthcare community — is as important as ever.

That was the thinking of Rachel Walker, the Ph.D. program director at University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s College of Nursing. On March 11, they asked the Twitterverse who else in nursing and academia would be missing out on sharing information this year.

And the responses came pretty quickly, as Marion Leary, the director of innovation for the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing, told this week. Leary herself saw the tweet, reached out, and became one of about a dozen organizers who worked over the last month and a half on the Nursing Mutual Aid 2020 conference.

The all-day conference, to be held Thursday, April 30, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST, will host 75 “speakers,” from nurses to midwives, presenting their work on Twitter. It calls on the idea of “mutual aid,” or sharing resources and ideas during a time where our healthcare systems are working harder than ever.

Each presenter will have a 10-minute time slot to tweet out a thread (of up to six tweets) about their topic under the hashtag #NMA2020. Marion told that folks can use gifs, videos, images and anything else Twitter allows to present their topic.

One of the things that a Twitter conference offers that some traditional conferences don’t, Leary said, is increased accessibility.

“There’s open access and anyone can participate,” Leary said. “Twitter offers a variety of accessibility and translation options, so there will be speakers from around the world that can just upload their talk in their native language.”

Folks who want to interact with the speaker also have the opportunity to do so by replying to threads, and that conversation can continue after the speaker’s allotted time slot is over. Some of the topics slated for Thursday’s conference include disparity during the COVID-19 crisis, why person-first language is important during the pandemic and healthcare in a digital world. A full program can be found online.

You can follow along with the conference on Twitter @NrsgMutualAid and by following the hashtag #NMA2020 from 9 a.m. to. 9 p.m. EST Thursday. The conference is free, and no registration is required.

“We wanted to make sure this conference will center perspectives you may not see at other conferences, and serve as a space for marginalized voices,” Leary said.

Companies: University of Pennsylvania
Series: Healthcare Technologies Month 2020

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