Scratching beneath the surface of Twitter

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I am a huge fan of using Twitter as a health care professional.  Anyone that knows me personally will know this to be true and may even have been along to one of my sessions on using Twitter as a research nurse.  Being a freelance nurse, Twitter is one channel I use to share information, to join in #TweetChats, generally interact with other nurses and top up my CPD.

Whilst using Twitter, we need to be mindful of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Code of Professional Conduct and their published social media guidance– this includes professionalism when posting, acting/advising within our competence and also maintaining strict confidentiality.  However, something I haven’t seen talked about much is standard 19:

Be aware of, and reduce as far as possible, any potential for harm associated with your practice.

To achieve this, you must:

19.1 take measures to reduce as far as possible, the likelihood of mistakes, near misses, harm and the effect of harm if it takes place

19.2 take account of current evidence, knowledge and developments in reducing mistakes and the effect of them and the impact of human factors and system failures (see the note below)

19.3 keep to and promote recommended practice in relation to controlling and preventing infection

19.4 take all reasonable personal precautions necessary to avoid any potential health risks to colleagues, people receiving care and the public
Human factors refer to environmental, organisational and job factors, and human and individual characteristics, which influence behaviour at work in a way which can affect health and safety – Health and Safety Executive. You can find more information at” NMC Code of Professional Conduct

This is something I’ve been reflecting on and have been wondering how we might avoid some of the potential pitfalls that we might slip into if we are caught off guard.  Social media can be an informal place and without safeguards I wonder if we might find ourselves slipping into the danger zone.  A few thoughts I’ve had to hopefully prevent some of this are below:

  • It’s probably best to avoid polls to make immediate decisions on your practice – remember that polls are generally public, anyone can vote on them and just because 80% of people voting have said you should admit your patient these 80% could be anyone!
  • Use others’ professional knowledge to formulate your own thoughts but remember to fact-check as you go along.  Just because someone says there is a paper out there that says “X” doesn’t mean that it does actually say “X”; read it for yourself, what do you think?
  • Disagree! Easy for me to say but if you feel what someone is saying is wrong or that they haven’t fully appreciated another side of a particular issue just say so respectfully and offering another perspective.
  • The flip side being… don’t take criticism personally; it’s a great opportunity to develop ideas and thoughts when it’s done with respect.  What if you say something someone disagrees with?  Then take on board their perspective, try and see where they are coming from can carry on the conversation.
  • If you feel someone isn’t being respectful, don’t be tempted to have a go at them/ lose your temper.  Be aware of Sealioning – it seems there has been a bit of a trend recently of trolling scientists in this way and it’s a useful concept to be aware of when you might be approached by someone with seemingly good intentions that just keeps on asking more and more…
  • Build your colleagues up – if you have something affirming to add, if you agree, if you “like” what they have said – tell them.  It can make someone’s day especially when they have put the effort into formulating a tweet in the hope that it will be of benefit to someone.

Do you have any thoughts?  How do you make sure you keep your practice safe whilst at the same time making sure you don’t miss out on others’ professional knowledge?


Picture Credit: Photo by Sandrachile  on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Scratching beneath the surface of Twitter”

  1. I love this. What a fantastic blog. It’s lovely to read something so well written and informed, especially the criticism bit. I agree 100%


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