With everybody and their nan now using some form of social media we’re now more inextricably connected to one another more than ever. We can see what our Ex had for dinner, how the school playground bully’s life has turned out or even some pretty revealing celebrity posts from the past that come back to haunt their authors. But it’s not just celebrities that can get caught out by an ill-judged social media post. Oh no, everyone is under the spotlight nowadays.
Healthcare professionals have recently made the headlines after viral videos made by doctors and nurses making headlines after they were accused of being unprofessional and spreading misinformation.
"Some health professionals and medical trainees have demonstrated activity and/or behaviour on social media that may adversely affect public health and public opinion of the medical profession" the Association for Healthcare Social Media published in a statement.
However, social media has also become an essential tool for communicating with peers and keeping up to date with health care news. Regular twitter chats by @wenurses for instance have gained a large audience, and connect users from across the country and world, sharing best practice and advice. Whilst the benefits for professional development cannot be ignored, the inappropriate use of social media can put your registration as nurse in jeopardy. Here we look at some hints and tips about using it safely.
Maintaining a Professional reputation
Maintaining professionalism whilst interacting with friends can be difficult. You can manage your privacy settings; however as with everything online, once something is out there it can be hard to maintain control. If you identify yourself as an agency nurse online, then you have a duty to ensure you do not compromise professional standards.
NMC issued guidelines to nurses and midwives with an active social profile urging them to uphold the reputation of their profession at all times by using “all forms of spoken, written and digital communication (including social networking sites) responsibly, respecting the right to privacy of others at all times” (NMC, 2015).
Managing your connections
Linking with healthcare professionals, other agency nurses and friends can bring a while host of social benefits, however if your profile is discovered by patients, then professional boundaries can quickly become blurred. Even if you do not approve a connection they may be able to find out personal details about you. Ensure your privacy settings are up to date, and check what is available publicly regularly.
Never discuss patient details outside of the clinical setting, and always insist that any necessary discussions occur over email where data shared is more secure.
Think twice about what you share
Patient confidentiality is extremely important and posting anything that could identify a patient is to be avoided at all cost. Anything you share has the potential to go viral, so you must consider everything you share. Consider how it could be interpreted by others. Ranting on social media might feel good at the time – but comments can come back and haunt you for a long time. If you apply for jobs in the future your employers could check back on your social history – what would your rants say about you?
It is not just your reputation that could be put at risk by any comments you make; your employer could also suffer the consequences. With various profiles, maybe Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn it can be easy for people to make connections even if you do not make them explicitly yourself. Sense check everything you say, would you say it personally to your employers? If not, do not think that hiding behind a keyboard will protect you. With all advice you give make sure you are suitably qualified to make the observations and be confident you can back up anything you do write in necessary. Our strongest advice is, if in doubt don’t comment!
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