'Is Facebook a student nurse's worst enemy?'
Social networking is the student nurse’s biggest enemy, well that’s the impression I’ve been given …
Sometimes people can make some really massively stupid mistakes on Facebook and jeopardise their career. But sometimes social networks can be used for good. So here’s my do’s and don’ts …
- Use it to connect to those on your course. My cohort created a Facebook group for us all to share information and ask questions, and it’s been immensely helpful. We share resources for assignments, tips for placement and clear up any timetable confusion. It’s reassuring that if I have a problem, or there is something I don’t understand about a task then there are about a hundred people I can ask with the click of a button.
- Connect to other nurses. I use twitter. I mainly use it to follow other people, or organisations. Charities such as Macmillan and the BHF often tweet really valuable resources for student nurses, and it makes it easier to ask organisations direct questions. Also, get involved with nursing chats! The #NTtwitchat is always interesting to follow, even if you cant always join in. It happens every Wednesday at 1pm.
- Think before you post. If you type something into that little status box and you have doubts, don’t post it. I avoid saying anything about nursing on Facebook. I don’t talk about placements, I don’t talk about the course, and I definitely don’t even think about mentioning patients, even if it is in the most vague way possible. It’s just easier that way.
- Ever say anything negative about your place of study/work. I know it sounds a bit extreme, but it’s true. You never know who could be reading what you write, and if you slam a lecturer or complain about how you were treated on placement, it could have some pretty serious repercussions. You might need to get it out of your system, but jeopardizing your nursing career isn’t worth it.
- Post pictures from work. On my last placement, a memo was sent around staff warning them against taking pictures at work. A nurse at another hospital in the same health board had done just this, and then posted them on twitter. A lecturer told me the other week of some students that got into trouble for taking a picture of a friend asleep in a lecture. It might sound like nothing, but clearly, it was taken quite seriously.
- Ever talk about your patients. We all have patients that are sometimes a bit…frustrating, to say the least. You might just say to a colleague that Mrs Z is being difficult. But you wouldn’t broadcast it to the whole world. But sadly, people do. You just need to look at the conduct hearings on the NMC website to see examples of nurses careers ended by an offhand remark about a patient on Facebook. It’s easier to just not mention them at all.
The best advice I can give is this. If you have to ask yourself whether or not to post something, then don’t post it. You don’t need to document every aspect of your life, and sometimes a really funny status update just isn’t worth it.
Sarah Jones is the adult branch student nurse editor for studentnursingtimes.net. You can find her on twitter @Sarah_ABN.