Before my redundancy I had little time to explore how social media is being used by healthcare professionals. I knew that our PCTs and Trusts were using it to report what was going on, but I had no idea about how many individuals were doing the same. Since I finished work though, I have joined Twitter myself and started to follow some of the people out there who are tweeting about nursing and healthcare. Of course, I have other interests too and am also following a few celebrities.
Unlike Facebook, people on Twitter tend not to lay bare their entire lives. This is helped by the fact you can only post 140 characters or less at a time. It seems an ideal way to share news and information with others. Some individuals are quite prolific in their posts, you wonder how they find time to get anything done. Maybe, they are the irritating people you see at meetings who spend the whole time studying their mobile phones. I used to think those people were answering emails, but perhaps they are on Twitter?
I have been interested to see read the tweets of nurses and doctors who work at the bedside, quite rightly of course they will be offering general information and personal opinion. Just as with blogging there are massive pitfalls to writing online about work. But it is great to see that people are overcoming the potential minefields of confidentiality and employer resistance to social media. Many NHS organisations don’t allow staff to access social media from their work computers, but since everyone now has a smart phone, this doesn’t stop people.
A couple of weekends ago, as a celebration of International Nursing Day, @WeNurses held a ‘tweetathon’ for people to post stories of nursing and to send pictures of badges and buckles. They also hold regular discussions about pertinent issues for nursing and healthcare; today there was one about the Liverpool Care Pathway. Because this discussion takes place in an open forum, as members of the public and media get to know about them, there is a greater chance that people will see nurses in the positive way we need. They will see professional discussion from caring and intelligent people. They will see the sharing of best practice, they will see compassion in action and they will see that some of the recent rhetoric is plainly untrue.
Social media seems to be here to stay and for me it seems to be a great way of finding out what is happening out there and for getting to know the lives of other people.
You can follow me here Though of course, I don’t have loads to say just yet. Hopefully that might soon change!