Friday, June 28, 2013

How to Be Responsible with Social Media and Mobile Technology

Technology has become a part of all of our lives, and nursing students are no exception.  In fact, many nursing schools now require students to have top-of-the-line laptops, tablets, and/or smartphones in order to keep up with the information we have available for nursing education.  As a part of the new educational model, many schools require forum posts and email communication in order for us to connect with other students and teachers. 

Outside of the classroom, some students band together and form groups on popular social media sites, such as Facebook, and use it as a place to discuss fears, concerns, exciting accomplishments or happenings, calendars, and upcoming assignments.  Other students may use this intense time in their lives as an opportunity to blog or write about it on the internet as a personal journal, of sorts.  All of these examples come with a level of ethical concerns and cautions.

How can a student nurse steer clear of trouble and use social media and mobile technology responsibly?
I believe there are some basic rules to using social media that we should all practice in order to be respected as nursing students and as professionals:

      Don’t break patient confidentiality.  Patients trust us to maintain their privacy and respect (as does the HIPAA privacy rule).  This means do not share names, places, pictures, or anything that could identify that patient.  I would argue that discussing a patient’s case should not be done on the internet at all, but rather in private with your clinical instructor and classmates.  There is a time and place for debriefing, but that is not online for the world, and for other patients, to see.

Do not attack other people.  Do not use the internet to attack other classmates, instructors, hospitals, nurses, nursing schools, etc.  This can be a form of bullying and helps no one.  Part of nursing school involves learning how to communicate with others in a respectful and mindful way.  Use confrontations that arise as an opportunity to learn and respond appropriately.

Remember that nothing is secret.  Even if you think the group you are posting in is “secret” or “hidden” it may not be.  Do not post anything on the internet that you would not want your future employer to see.  This may include public postings/pictures on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr.  Many employers are now seeking out information on the internet as a part of the job interview process.

Don’t cheat.  Start practicing the ethics of nursing and resist the urge to cheat while in nursing school.  So much information is available at every turn on the internet, that there is a lot of temptation to cheat on assignments.  Just don’t do it.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) also has a Social Media Principles Toolkit that can be helpful.

We are so fortunate to live in the world today and to learn how to become nurses with infinite knowledge at our fingertips.  As future nurses, we are learning how to use this technology ethically and with the best interest of our patients in mind. Stay mindful of what you share on the internet and how you present yourself as a nursing student.

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