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Does your university encourage online debate?

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When students start a course in nursing many believe that they should fear the Nursing and Midwifery Counsel (NMC).

It’s thought that at the slightest hint of indiscretion the NMC could send out their agents to bundle you into the back of a car and begin their McCarthy style hearings - “are you now or have you ever been a member of a social networking site?”.

I am pleased to say that as I progress through my nursing course, my view of the NMC has changed. The rules surrounding nurses, as laid down by the NMC, are fairly simple to understand and it is quite obvious when you have made an indiscretion. The results and implications of those indiscretions are justified and measured. However, it seems that the real institution that you should be wary of is your own university.

For better or for worse I have put myself firmly into the public arena. Many people know who I am, know my writings and know which university I come from so I have given up my anonymity in order to openly document my experiences.

To this end I have been lucky in that my university has been extremely supportive of the public work I engage in and I hope to repay that support by maintaining a public presence that is professional but still of benefit to my readers.

This is not always the case for others. One student spoke to me about their university’s hesitance to allow students to use social networking sites or contribute to publications.

There is a fear that our professional nursing ethic won’t extend to how we conduct ourselves in the public space. Maybe they’re right to be wary, but to ban us from taking part? Isn’t that a bit extreme?

The NMC’s remit is fairly simple; they are there to ensure the safety of the public and uphold the standards of the profession. Universities have an ever-changing role to play in society. They are there to educate students to a set standard but they also have to run a business. While one university, like mine, may fully embrace its students’ drive to express themselves others don’t agree that engaging with debate online is a good thing.

Thankfully the majority of universitys are very supportive but before you decide to stick your head above the parapet, check with your university because avoiding problems is a lot easier than trying to solve problems.

Do you enjoy engaging with online debate? How does your university feel about it?

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