Senior nurses have been called on to act as “role models” for the nursing profession in the use of social media.
Anne Cooper, national clinical lead for nursing at the Department of Health’s informatics directorate, last week encouraged all directors of nursing to adopt an online presence by either blogging or using Facebook or Twitter.
Speaking at the chief nursing officer’s annual conference in Manchester, Ms Cooper said there was an opportunity for nurses to become “digital professionals”, who used social media to engage with patients and each other.
She highlighted the “fantastic opportunity” that social media presented for connecting with children and young people, groups of patients with long term conditions and their own staff.
But she told delegates she thought at present many nurse leaders did not use social media because they viewed it negatively as something they were either unable to control or that was linked with inappropriate behaviour.
“[We are] starting to get into this cycle where we see social media through misdemeanors and our response is to regulate and punish and tell people not to do it. This is a real shame because I think the answer to some of this is digital professionalism.”
Ms Cooper told delegates: “You need to combine your professional skills with a digital experience ….we all need to become professional and digital experts.”
She said: “[You] should all find your own way of having a digital, online presence that fits your role and your responsibility.
“That might be a blog, it might be tweeting but I think we need to role model those behaviours so that the generations that are coming behind us understand what ‘good’ looks like. They’ve got the digital experience but you’ve got the professional experience to model for them.”
She added: “Rather than thinking about how we punish those people who are doing stupid things on Facebook, actually say we can show you a better way. We’ll show you how it can be done positively.”