17 March 2016

Student nurses dissect social media – its value and its future

Social media has integrated itself into our everyday lives and increasingly, its use amongst nursing professionals has risen and continues to rise. Many universities have embraced the importance of social media and safe practice online and have integrated this into their curriculum, educating student nurses on how to use social media professionally.

As a profession laden with risk and with an emphasis on confidentiality, many nurses may worry about their NMC registrations if they use social media. A recent #NurChat twitter chat attracting participants from as far as Australia, saw student nurses and registered nurses come together to discuss using social media to enhance nursing practice and student nurse development.

@PUNCtwhite “using a range of social media is great form of communication as long as social and professional are kept separate”

An overwhelming number of students and RNs concurred that social media is a positive platform for sharing professionally, as long as boundaries are set and users behave in a professional manner. @meta4RN tweeted, “I have separate social media profiles for professional and personal. Boundaries are important, as is "off time"” while another user, @puncnurse2B, commented, “separate accounts allow nurses to take their professional hats on and off as needed”.

@punc16Rich “Social media used correctly = unlimited learning resources”

Social media has proven itself time and again how useful it can be. Whether you’re a student nurse asking for help with research, expertise and guidance or a registered nurse looking for peer support after a hard shift, the importance of social media cannot be underestimated. @PUNC16stacey “I just think the support is amazing and I feel so privileged I have been able to join this amazing community of people”.

Providing a platform for learning and development for nurses at all levels of their career, social media bridges the gap, helping to develop a greater understanding of professional communication and has provided a connection to the wider nursing world that before social media, was out of reach, “I didn't realise that social media was used so much within the nursing community” commented one NurChatter.

Many students mentioned how social media, “enables you to see different perspectives on things and gain relevant information” it can be used to, “communicate with fellow students and gain new knowledge,” while ‎@punc_aeysha16 harmonized, “Twitter is a brilliant way to learn and expand our knowledge together and support one another”, “student nurses can develop by interacting with a range of professionals on subjects they specialise in.”

@PUNCLuci “I like that as there is no hierarchy so to speak so no barriers to who you can and can’t communicate with”

As with all public facing platforms, social media can find itself receiving bad publicity, however, Nurchatters felt that this shouldn’t stop student nurses from using the channel in a professional way. Importantly, NurChatters unanimously agreed that social media should be used in accordance to the NMC’s guidelines and that confidentiality and professionalism remains central.

@DonnaNewcross “I have had negatives from twitter. Thought about leaving. But sometimes silence is more powerful than words,” @PUNCFay “following The Code using social media I don't feel as though I need to worry. Re-read what we are writing before posting.”

As for the future of social media for student nurses?  @punc16_SUMMER perfectly summed up “when we're sisters (dreams) I have no doubt we will be promoting Twitter to our staff!”


To read the full transcript from Tuesday’s chat click here.

#NurChat will return on 29th March at 8pm with a focus on Beating Diabetes with World Health Day 2016.