Has someone written on your wall? Have you just been poked? Perhaps you’ve been left a stack of unwanted presents? Those in the know will realise that I’m not talking about vandals or a deluge of gifts from a benevolent old aunt. I am talking about Facebook.
There are positive aspects to Facebook. It helps to communicate messages to a large audience. However, the site does have
In the UK, police officers are facing disciplinary action for ‘inappropriate’ posts supporting a colleague under investigation for a road traffic accident that resulted in the death of a pedestrian. A trainee surgeon voiced personal grievances against senior colleagues and found himself suspended from duty. And a nurse in Northampton faces disciplinary action for posting a topless picture of herself in her Facebook profile. I confess to have seen a former colleague who at the click of a mouse appears – apart from strategically placed hands – completely starkers.
I don’t know if psychologists have designed any tests around our relationship with keyboards but people do seem to disclose an awful lot of private information to a very public audience.
It is difficult to keep up with the pace of technological change. But, thanks to the more IT-literate members of my team of student practice facilitators, I’ve been alerted to the problems with online social networking sites such as Facebook.
As student practice facilitators, we’ve had to develop guidelines for pre and post-registration students. For example, if you’re being mentored, can you ask a mentor to be your ‘friend’ on Facebook? Well – no.
Nurses must realise that inappropriate posts will give the NMC grounds to revoke their pin numbers. Whether you are a student or a registered nurse, you cannot be unprofessional online. That includes asking a patient’s relative to be your online friend.
Thankfully, the NMC is soon to publish guidelines on online protocol.
I suspect we could all recall emails or posts we wish we’d never sent. So before you log on to MySpace – check out the NMC.
Brian Belle-Fortune is a student practice facilitator at Great Ormond Street Hospital
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