Nurses, social media and engaging in a community of practice


Wilson, Ranse, Cashin and McNamara (2013) explored the growing use of social media and use of the micro blog Twitter as an example of the uptake of this media. They also provided useful tips for those who are interested in using social media in clinical or educational settings or for professional development.  This paper partly entitled ‘the good, the bad and the reluctant’ is timely because it corroborates my findings from the development of this community of practice that uses Twitter and this blog as platforms to inform, disseminate and share information and seek feedback from members or visitors to the community of practice.

These authors provide an overview of the burgeoning use of various forms of social media that can also be accessed using mobile platforms. They mention the benefit of engagement or professional networking with others at a local, national or global level. They also discuss the collaboration or value-adding activities by using hash tags or crowd sourcing that can be undertaken during events or in cyberspace.

There is also discussion of the limitations of using social media. The lack of digital literacy is acknowledged as a barrier as are trolls or the rapid dispersal of misinformation through these channels. There is a need for robust policy development and guides to ensure that social media potential is harnessed and the risk of harm is minimised.

The authors also raise the issue of using social media within clinical settings and for health education. The discussion regarding the use of social media within the profession of nursing also corroborates our findings. There are human factors that dissuade the use of social media that impacts on the capacity of early adopters to model appropriate use of this platform within the professional setting (Mather, Marlow and Cummings 2013).

Wilson et al (2013) are positive in the future of using social media for patient or client communication or interventions and urge nurses to gain a strategic voice by developing the skills in using these platforms. The use of social media by nurses will assist with developing positive opportunities within and beyond the scope of nursing and encompass other health collaborators.

The implications for clinical supervisors include the potential to model the appropriate use of social media during work integrated learning of students and in the workplace with peers and colleagues. Additionally, the use of these platforms can be integrated into the care of patients and clients and again supervisors are well placed to demonstrate appropriate ethical behaviour that is congruent with the professional code of conduct for registered nurses. Being present within the digital sphere will facilitate opportunities to engage and share information that can benefit individuals and groups within and external to the profession. This community of practice focussing on clinical supervision and education is an example of the collaboration mentioned by Wilson, Ranse, Cashin and McNamara (2013). I urge you to join us @PEPCommunity and become part of this community of practice.

If you have any comments or queries about using social media as a platform for promoting engagement of health professionals about clinical supervision you are welcome to post them here.

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