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The benefits and risks of social media for nursing


Two views on the pros and cons of social media

The benefits

One prolific user of social media is David Dawes, founder of the social enterprise Entreprenurses.  

He says social media enables nurses to connect with their peers working in similar fields, wherever they are in the world. Mr Dawes finds that it is particularly useful to share learning in rapidly changing areas such as research or health policy.

Mr Dawes says it can also enable nurses to have a “dialogue with groups of people that would be very expensive or very time consuming to do in any other way”, or be “a very good source of practical and emotional support when nurses are facing difficulties”.

“Blogging is an extremely good way to influence the profession, share knowledge and stimulate debate. LinkedIn is excellent for developing professional contacts, growing your network and for finding new jobs and opportunities,” he says.

He adds: “Twitter is a very good way of sharing ideas rapidly with large numbers of people and is one of the best sources for breaking news and clinical updates.”

The risks

Andy Jaeger, Nursing and Midwifery Council assistant director of professional and public communications, is the author of the regulator’s new advice on social networking sites.

Like many other professional organisations, the NMC uses social media to communicate with its members and the public.

However, Mr Jaeger says the NMC is seeing an increasing number of fitness to practise cases involving the use of social networking sites and more requests from employers for advice on disciplinary situations involving social media.

He says the NMC is investigating “a number of cases”, many involving Facebook.

The NMC does not advocate a blanket ban on nurses and midwives from engaging with social media and supports its responsible use.

Mr Jaeger says the guidance is there to help nurses and feedback has been positive.

“We have written the guidance not to scare people but to give people the tools to protect themselves online,” he says.


Readers' comments (4)

  • Natalie Jewell

    Like with anything rules and guidelines are essential for those who are a bit unsure.

    Social networking has allowed me to talk and discuss ideas with other health professionals - not just nurses - and "meet" people in other parts of the country I would never have met without social media.

    There is a plethora of information online. Most of us don't have time to sift through it all but with a network like Twitter you can have a lot of relevant information delivered straight to you without having to plough through so much other "stuff".

    And it's better for the environment than all that paper we used to have delivered. Not to mention all that stuff we used to hoard in our office "just incase we need it tomorrow".

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  • social media has clear benefits as outlined above if used responsibly and carefully but it is also subject to serious abuse which will spread as people continue to find different ways of using it such as organizing devastating riots as seen currently in London where Twitter was used to give news of venues, etc.

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  • “Thursday 01 September 2011"

    "Employers must come clean about social media snooping
    A new social media guide for the workplace finally urges bosses to be transparent and reasonable when snooping on their staff. This is how it should be, writes Emma Barnett"

    Thursday 01 September 2011

    "Employers warned about snooping on staff via social networks
    Employers have been warned about snooping on their staff via social networks by Acas, the body which helps organisations improve relationships with their workers, in a newly published guide.”

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Lisa Inglis

    Being a nurse is not just a job, it is an identity. You can’t leave a hospital and not be affected emotionally, physically, spiritually and intellectually. Everyday we are faced with new situations, people and challenges. We need a space for our voice to be heard, shared and valued.

    We need to reflect and have the support from other professional expertise and experiences to learn, not only as individuals but as an organisation.

    Continued professional development is crucial but equally continued personal development is also as important. It takes confidence, character and commitment to ensure we deliver high standards of care to all of our patients as well as care for ourselves and our own lives.

    Personal and professional strengths and weaknesses will develop through connecting with people from all over the world who want to inspire, engage and learn.

    Social media is now ingrained in our daily lives, our phones are rarely out of our hands when we have a free minute. The internet is easy to access and the best way to engage in topics of interest with likeminded people. I have only recently joined Instagram, however in such a short space of time I have been inspired and empowered by the health and well being improvement tips people have shared.

    Professionals working in care often sacrifice their families , social and health. But we do it because it’s who we were meant to be, and have chosen to help others selflessly.
    Sometimes the balance of life and nursing takes it toll and you doubt if you can sustain the constant challenges, but I truly believe with the right platform, community and support we can achieve great things together and make a positive difference to the lives we share this space with.

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