E-professionalism and Nursing

Guest post: Holly Sutherland, Nursing Studies with Honours (HiSS, University of Edinburgh)

As a nursing student, I know it can get tedious reading through all the protocols and the DO’S and DON’T’s of social media use. But it can also be humiliating when a student nurse, or even a qualified nurse is found to be negligent or unprofessional through social media.

It can’t be that hard, can it?Quote - Nursing 1

Most of us have probably had a patient try and find you on Facebook, ask if they can add you, or have found your profile and spoken to you about it. Although we may see this as harmless, there are good reasons that it is considered as unprofessional. This blog post will provide you with some easy hints (some that even I didn’t know about before discussing e-professionalism with the Digital Footprint team) about being social media savvy and even how to promote yourself, and keep up to date with knowledge based practice.

When I was asked to take part in the digital footprint research and awareness sessions, I gave consent to my social media platforms being reviewed , to see how “present “ I was on the internet. I happily found out that my “personal safety” features worked, as I was quite hard to find. Unfortunately, once one account was found, it was extremely easy to find the rest. This was because of mistake number 1 – I had the same display picture for all my accounts. This came as a surprise to me, as I never knew that this could be a way of finding people on different media platforms. Swiftly after this, I changed them all pretty quickly. However, having the same display picture can also be useful, it really depends on how you want to manage your online presence but for me, I wanted to remain quite private and have a low-key online presence.

The next thing I discovered, was that my Twitter account could be deemed as “unsafe” because of some of the popular accounts I was following. By this, I don’t mean an account such as “BBC NEWS” but more the anonymous accounts which had large numbers of followers and may be automated accounts designed for spamming. I did not know that others’ account and my connection with them could have influence over my own account and who could then see what I was retweeting/tweeting. Mistake number 2 – I quickly unfollowed these people/dubious accounts.

Luckily, I was fairly new to Instagram at the time I started this work so nothing much could be found on that. However, recently I have done another check and I still have a fully private account with a different profile picture and I have ensured that those I am following represent me well, with lots of good content on my profile.

Quote - Nursing 2Extra notes:

I was lucky, I only made a couple of mistakes when setting up my online presences and privacy settings, but here are a few reminders/ things I have realised by reviewing my online presence:

  • Don’t have a picture of you in uniform or on the hospital grounds on any social media platform. This is for discretion around your professional role but also to minimise the kind of interactions that could risk you getting caught out.
  • Don’t talk about work/ placement/ colleagues online from any accounts and especially not anything that has happened while you have been at work as this could risk your own, your patients or your colleagues’ privacy and safety. Where it is appropriate to talk about this, is face-to-face or on the phone, as this will substantially reduce the risk of information (good or bad) getting into the hands of the wrong person. Being professional also helps you present the best representation of yourself to future employers
  • If you want to present yourself in different ways to different audiences then think about how you will do that. For instance, you might want to try and keep your user names and profile images slightly different, so that you can present yourself well but differently in different spaces. Follow influential people in the nursing, medical and health professional world. They have great ideas, quotes, motivation, educational opportunities, and share lots of interesting content to learn from.
  • Take part in the discussion boards/ twitter feeds for new ideas, experiences and education.