If you’re a nurse currently working in Ontario who regularly reviews the College of Nurses (CNO) mail you may have come across my face while reading the Fall 2011 magazine issue of The Standard. I must admit it was exciting to see myself on the cover and to be interviewed about social media, but it was also a bit embarrassing for me since I started my new job the same week that this magazine arrived in our mailboxes. Somehow a copy of the magazine ended up at my orientation session and the unit I work on for all (physicians, staff, and clients) to see!
Recognizing that the entire interview would not make it into this article, I received permission by the magazine Editor to share my full response to the questions I was asked by the CNO representative regarding social media and nursing engagement. Here are the rest of the questions and answers that were submitted in September 2011. Enjoy!
Why should nurses care about social media?
I’d like you to consider Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian English professor and media visionary, who in 1964 wrote, “The medium is the message”. McLuhan’s quotation conveys that the medium (ie. Television, Internet, Social Media Tools) through which content is passed, influences society and ultimately, changes how we experience and perceive the world. Our world is changing with the introduction and use of these technologies; changes including how we view the person, health, the environment, and of course, nursing. I believe we have a professional responsibility to understand not only how to use these technologies to advance our work as nurses, but also how they may impact a person’s experience of illness and/or health, in that patients have a desire to access health resources within their environment. Nurses have an opportunity to appraise online resources and additionally, create valid and reliable health resources using social media tools for many online communities.
How can nurses use social media to develop themselves professionally?
Here are a few examples of how nurses can use social media to develop themselves professionally:
● There are thousands of nurses and other health professionals who are currently microblogging, or “Tweeting” insights or latest information from articles they have read, as well as conferences or workshops they are attending.
● RSS Feeds (Real Simple Syndication) and Readers (such as Google reader) allow us to receive alerts about new Internet resources such as the latest journal edition and then share them with our peers.
● Social networking sites, like LinkedIn (a professional social networking site), enable us to network and build online communities with health professionals or like-minded individuals (ie. RNAO eHealth Champions)
What are some of the privacy issues that nurses should consider?
The privacy laws, privacy policies, and the College practice standard on privacy and confidentiality continues to apply as it always has. We should always be conscious and alert as to what information we may be disclosing and to whom we are disclosing information to. Nurses need to use their discretion because what goes on the Internet is generally accessible to the public. Most people can be found on the Internet; in fact, all nurses in Ontario can be searched and found via the CNO website. Don’t be afraid of the technology but rather have some surveillance about what you share and what others may share about you.
What are some of your own parameters around your own use of social media, such as Twitter?
My parameters are very general and include not discussing professional relationships, respecting therapeutic relationships by never disclosing any information about who I’m working with, and being cautious about telling others where I am.
What is your favourite social media tool, and how have you used it to develop yourself as a nurse?
Currently, one of my favourite social media tools is “Mendeley” (a social networking and referencing website). This user-friendly tool, which is also available as a software application, enables you to collaborate with others whom you may be conducting research or writing papers with via the Internet. It’s a great resource for organizing, sharing, citing and categorizing articles into a database that can be accessed anywhere provided you have access to the Internet. I’m currently utilizing it to prepare for presentations, literature reviews, and for a few papers I am writing with my colleagues in academia who live in different cities.
What advice would you give to nurses who are thinking of trying social media but haven’t so far? For example, how can a nurse determine what social media tool is “right for them”?
My suggestion is to reflect upon your objective or intent of using social media in the first place. Many people make the mistake of signing up for accounts with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube.com, etc…without ever really understanding what the benefit would be. For instance, if you’re interested in finding a more efficient way to store, organize and share Internet resources with your peers, social bookmarking would be the suggested route you may take instead of Facebook. Another consideration is about how much time you would like to spend online and how it fits with your lifestyle as well. Some social media tools are more time-consuming than others, such as Twitter versus blogging.