Continuing the social media conversation


Social media and nursing continues to be a frequent topic of conversation.  It is important because social media is undertaken by nurses and other healthcare workers at and away from the workplace. Patients, clients and consumers also partake in the activity while waiting, receiving or being discharged from service delivery or care.

There is a growing body of literature about social media and the responsibility of all users to be mindful of content, context and appropriateness. However, I ask, how do health professionals and students know what is safe and appropriate content to gather, post or comment about? There is a raft of literature about the misdemeanours of health professionals and the repercussions of commenting about or posting inappropriate content. I watched this TED talk by Monica Lewinsky entitled “the price of shame”.  As she infers she is an expert in public humiliation.  Her story many of us will know from the media, this media clip is her version.  The relevance to professional experience placement? Although there is a social media policy guiding the use of social media within healthcare contexts, its use as a legitimate function within healthcare lags behind other professions.  The literature also shows, the Internet and mobile technology has the capacity to improve patient, client or consumer outcomes it also has a darker side, highlighted by Lewinsky, which has stunted the legitimate use of social media for healthcare purposes.  The inappropriate behaviour associated with social media by healthcare professionals is written about by Green (2017) and explored by Ferguson and colleagues (2016). However, there are solutions, which the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council Accreditation Standards (2012) and Explanatory Note (2014) address by stating that informatics must be included within undergraduate nursing curricula. Mather and co-workers (2016) discuss this issue and promote the concept of enabling digital professionalism to be developed as part of professional identity development.  Undergraduate nurses need to learn how to use social media appropriately early in their degree before they go into nursing practice.  Nurses and students need to understand the repercussions of their actions as described by Green (2017).  Banning of mobile technology within workplaces does not solve this complex issue, it may even promote poor decision-making as there is no discourse about how to manage information posted to social media platforms. It is time for nurses to lead and demonstrate they are capable of discerning when to employ social media, just as they demonstrate they can be trusted to dispense schedule 8 medications (Wilson et al 2014).

If you have any comments about social media use within healthcare environments you are welcome to post them here.  Please join us @PEPCommunity.

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