We have an obligation to conduct ourselves in a professional manner.
Throughout our studies we have the ever-present realisation that we are accountable to the Nursing and Midwifery Counsel (NMC). Obviously there are numerous ways in which a student nurse can exercise self-control and professionalism, both outside our studies and in practice but today I’m going to talk about social networks.
Today, every action we undertake can be traced or documented. Many student nurses have just emerged from college where sites like Facebook and Twitter feel like a social necessity. Students eager to avoid the incredulous looks from their peers after saying they weren’t ‘online’ quickly start to document every aspect of their daily lives. For the most part this would be harmless trivia, but as we move on in our professional training, is it wise to be cautious?
I don’t want to dissuade people from using social sites. After all they have brought great benefits to many, facilitating relationships in a way that was never thought possible just a decade earlier and they can indeed be a great resource for learning. What I am trying to get across is a message of caution.
I’m sure we have all heard of the employers who trawl the internet to find incriminating photos of potential employees before making their decisions, but as potential nurses our online personas must be even more carefully regulated.
Consider carefully the image that you are presenting and be aware that pictures and messages that you think are private may be far from it and all it could take to expose these to the world is your name and location.
This ability to delve into your innermost thoughts isn’t just reserved for potential employers. Patients and relatives could easily do the same and depending on what they find, this could create some genuine problems for you. I will consider a general rule of thumb to be that if you didn’t want the patient, relatives or ward manager to find out about what you did over the weekend, then the safest bet would be to not talk about it on social media.
I understand that this can all be a bit overwhelming. As is generally the way with technology, we have found that Pandora’s box has been opened. Everyone now has the unrestricted ability to share everything before we have developed the understanding of how to use it ‘safely’.
So what’s the answer? Should we attempt to purge ourselves from our online personas and try to resist the lure?
I would have to say no. Despite some peoples’ opinions, social networking and technologies ability to log every facet of our existence is here to stay. Just as we have had to learn how to conduct ourselves professionally in our physical encounters, we should remember to exercise that same level of consideration for our online presence.
You can change your privacy settings or update your password, but the surest way to guarantee that nothing incriminating or untoward ends up online is to think twice before posting potentially sensitive material.
Technology has given us the gift of being able to reveal our most personal and intimate feelings to the world before we have developed the self- control to know when to use it. We are student nurses who will one day become qualified nurses and as a friend said to me; “we gain a professional qualification for a professional manner”. I like that sentence so much that I am going to make it my new Facebook status.