Don’t be afraid of social networking

Joel, a second-year student children’s nurse, is a keen tweeter and blogger. Here he passes on some tips for getting the most from social media:

We all know the negative side of social networking, but is the positive side – particularly for us as nurses – full appreciated? I think not. So I’m going to explore some of these advantages and (hopefully!) persuade more people to join in the online nurses’ world!

I know many are apprehensive about social media, but fear not; I shall be offering some tips on how to remain ‘professional’ throughout.

There are a variety of ways to interact online: Twitter enables snippets of information and links to be shared with one click, while blog-hosting sites allow you to create your own blog and write longer pieces, with videos or photos included.

So, you are asking yourself:  what impact can I make? What do I gain from it? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Remain up to date: Healthcare news, innovations and changes in national guidelines and policies can be shared among professionals. The Department of Health, NICE and MHRA etc are all on Twitter!
  • Debate and discuss: Regular ‘chats’ held to discuss issues from how to improve the NHS complaints system to how to prevent pressure ulcers. These discussions get you thinking ‘outside of the box’ and there aren’t many places where you can hear so many perspectives!
  • Campaign: Make an impact! A notable recent initiative is the #hellomynameis campaign which encourages staff to introduce themselves to their patients.
  • Connect: Students and qualified nurses can all connect, to learn from one another and offer support or advice. Students and ground-level staff can also connect with people like the Chief Nursing Officer and Secretary of State for Health – who can sometimes feel a long way from your ward or clinical area.
  • Promote the profession: Through these media you can inspire the next generation of nurses, answer their questions and give them advice!
  • Promote practice: High quality care and best clinical practice can be promoted.
  • Multi-disciplinary: Gain more insight and understanding of other healthcare professionals’ roles.

Ok, you’re thinking, that all sounds exciting - but how can I stay professional and safe online?

  • Location & surname: Conceal them! It means service users are less likely to find you. If you don’t want to reveal your name at all use a pseudonym. Remember to always remain professional though as calling yourself something akin to “drunknurse247” is not a good idea.
  • Disclaimer: Something simple like “Views my own” is one way to emphasise you are not speaking on behalf of your employer (if you are not blogging or tweeting for work) though bear in mind your employer may well see what you write!
  • Privacy settings & blocking: Ensure they are their highest so that people have to request to connect with you – that way you regulate who can contact you and see your information. Report any offensive posts and ‘block’ the user.
  • Pictures: Be careful what pictures you post of yourself – if any at all.
  • Think: Consider what you are posting, before you post it! Is it professional? Is it kind? What impression of nursing does it give?

Social networking is a powerful tool when used appropriately. I really encourage you to engage with it!

For further information on using social media, refer to the NMC Code of Conduct.

About the author

Joel is a second year student paediatric nurse at university in England. He plays drums and supports Tottenham Hotspur football club. You can read his blog here