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'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 …

DO

  • 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.

DON’T

  • 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.

Readers' comments (11)

  • I think this is a great article Sarah! Facebook once used correctly can be a great communication tool to connect to other professionals and discuss best practice.

    I'm currently using this to broadcast our specialist Advanced Practitioner recruitment agency and feel its a great forum to share information

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  • Twits twitter and fools use the face thing.

    How, I wonder, did I manage without these tools which are aimed at those in society who occupy the bottom of the gene pool ?

    I must be missing something, I only have two degrees and work in a demanding high tech environment !

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  • Thank you Candice! And Anonymous - there isn't any need to be quite so rude. Yes, people manage without it, and I could, quite easily. But social media is an ever growing and ever evolving presence in our society, so why not make the most of it and use them to maximise our learning potential?

    And everyone held the 'well I coped perfectly well without it' view, then what would be the need for innovation? You probably managed without a computer, but you're using one now. Open your mind, and see that tools 'aimed at those in society who occupy the bottom of the gene pool' are tools that everyone can use.

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  • Sarah

    Thanks for your response.

    Next time your out spending some "social time" find a moment and check around ---

    You will discover that people have lost the skill associated with "normal" social interaction.

    You will notice a lot of bowed heads the owners of which are involved in moronic "tweeting" or other such activity. They will not be talking to each othe! r

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  • I really have to disagree with you. Maybe you need to find other people to interact with, because certainly no one I know neglects real conversation for their mobile phones, unless it's absolutely necessary.

    I suggest you actually take the time to properly explore social media and realise the intellectual benefits it can have. Whilst (with nearly every aspect of life) there can be a few idiots who use it for rubbish, I find everybody I follow on twitter to be entertaining, funny and clever.

    I used to feel the same as you, I wasn't a fan of twitter. But then I never really used it. Now that I have started to discover its uses and its users, I'm finding it a valuable resource. I use it, and I certainly wouldn't say it's moronic.

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  • Michael Whitehead

    Really useful and sensible article, well done Sarah :)

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  • Missy01

    A really useful article! I think Twitter and other social networking sites are great for connecting with not only other nurses, but also other health-related accounts (eg. NHS, Mind, WeNurses) etc. It's like being part of a community, and it's reassuring to know that there are like-minded people out there!

    But it is so, so important to behave appropriately on the net. I remember reading one fitness to practice hearing on the NMC site about a paediatric nurse (or it may have been a midwife) who took a picture of a baby and posted it on Facebook.

    Anyway, here's a link to the NMC's own advice if anyone wants more info:
    http://www.nmc-uk.org/Nurses-and-midwives/Advice-by-topic/A/Advice/Social-networking-sites/

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  • As long as you don't post pictures of patients then you should be fine, also no pictures of yourself in your uniform, too many spiteful people in the profession who love to get one over on people, so don't give them the opportunity!

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  • Use of social media is all about common sense. It's about remembering anything you publish on your "wall" or tweet is out in the public domain, even if privacy is high as the term friends on facebook and so on can be quite a loose one. There are plenty of people willing to stab others in the back in nursing to make themselves look better.

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  • Why do people need to talk about work on facebook. I use facebook for catching up with friends and relatives seeing wedding pictures and other social events that I could not attend to, sports eg discussing the olympics, football etc also being invited to different social events. Work stuff remains at work

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  • Sarah great article - my cohort uses a private facebook group to communicate with each other, great way to discuss lectures & courswork issues, and the whole group can see....saving on the phone bill :) Anonymous we are not discussing work on fb or other social networking sites, where discussing our education and our learning....after all we are still only student nurses!

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