Do nursing and facebook mix? Accident waiting to happen or social networking miracle?
Facebook and I have had an on-off relationship. It started well, we had a bit of a break, then took up where we left off.
It regularly annoys me, but now that I use it in my job I’m starting to love it again. The first time that I posted a question on Nursing Times’ facebook page I wasn’t expecting much of a response, but the replies made my day. I have access to an immediate cache of responses, and not just responses of the “Becky … loves her lovely, lovely, loving boyfriend” ilk, but articulate and well thought out discussions. What better way to get to know your reader? Thanks, facebook.
At the RCN Congress 2011, delegates discussed where facebook and social media fit into nursing. Thoughts were divided. But those who warned of facebook’s dangers just seemed a bit out of date to me.
Sure, if you publish incriminating posts like “I hate all my patients, die, die, die!” your boss probably won’t take too kindly. But not going down that route is common sense, isn’t it?
The Nursing and Midwifery Council actually have their own section of code about the use of social media. They say:
- “You must respect people’s right to confidentiality”
- “You must cooperate with the media only when you can confidently protect the confidential information and dignity of those in your care”
- “You must uphold the reputation of your profession at all times”
Sound OK to you? Maybe it needs a little more clarity. Are you allowed to upload team pictures, as long as patients aren’t lurking in the background? Should you never post a picture of yourself in uniform? Can you complain about what an awful day you’ve had on the ward? How does this translate in reality?
But this is all a bit doom and gloom. Social media isn’t just an accident waiting to happen, it has its good points too. As Dave Dawes said at the congress “social media is like sex, when it’s safe it’s brilliant”.
And I agree. I think where social media really excels is not sharing pictures of your weekend but creating a platform where you can communicate to like-minded people. There are more than 8,500 nurses on our Nursing Times facebook page and around 9,000 following @NursingTimes on twitter. And they’re regularly joining in on the conversation.
But can it go a step further? Should facebook portals be set up in hospitals so that patients can easily connect to their friends? Should student nurses be buddied up with more experienced mentors via twitter? Should nursing teams have their own facebook page to help boost team morale?
I think everyone who owns a facebook page needs to be aware of the consequences of posting personal information. The danger is that social media has become so normal and accepted that people forget that things can go wrong. But as long as it’s safe, it’s brilliant.