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Jan 19/14
Social media is the new wave of communication and connectivity for our lives whether we understand it or want it to be. More and more people are becoming connected using platforms such as facebook, twitter, linkedIn etc. As a nurse and as an Educator this is something that I need to consider as I educate the nurses of the future.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (2011) states “The use of social media and other electronic communication is increasing exponentially with growing numbers of social media outlets, platform and applications” (para 1). More nurses are using social media to connect with patients, relay new information, and learn about new processes themselves. Bowen (2012) discusses how students today want instant access, instant communication and the use of technology in their education. So if future nurses and future students are demanding this use, I guess the Faculty and Higher Education Institutions must also get on board.
I currently work in a world where social media is used only at arm’s length. Nurses are not allowed to carry phones or devices on units for fear of breaching confidentiality or use of those devices causing interference in patient care. Currently the 4 major Health Authorities in the Lower Mainland have policies that all nursing staff must not have smart phones or other devices with them while on site. Inappropriate use of these devices could and does result in termination of employment. So how do we encourage social media in the classroom but then tell them to avoid use of it while in practice? This is a question I have always struggled with especially since we give our students iPads and e-texts. So in essence we promote technology in the classroom but when I send them to practicum I create confusion. Unfortunately, we are currently bound by the policies and procedures of our host facilities and can only hope to inspire change in the future.
The other controversial side of using social media in the classroom, is the separation of personal and professional lives. Sure I would like to use Facebook as a forum for my students, but how do I moderate and participate in that process while keeping my personal life out of it? Am I expected to have 2 Facebook profiles, 1 personal and 1 professional, or is it just a matter of learning to use the privacy settings in a way that meets both those needs? I tend to lean towards the latter as this is a much more manageable and time saving option. Bowen (2012) has it right when he says “Getting the balance of humanity and technology right is everyone’s new mission.” (pg 49). We must embrace the change but also remember that technology and social media cannot take over for the way we communicate; rather it is a new way of communicating in conjunction with old traditional face-to-face methods currently being used in the standard classroom.
Bowen (2012) believes that the foundation of education is making a connection. This is a concept that is completely embedded in my own teaching philosophy. We cannot educate and pass on new learning without first establishing and nurturing a relationship with the students we seek to teach. Social networking allows us the ability to connect with our students and have them more actively engaged in their own learning (Bowen 2012), therefore this should be an easy transition.
In nursing, you can find significant literature to support both the benefits and disadvantages of social media use in nursing. Some benefits are connectivity, better patient relationships, exchange of knowledge, and educating the public (Betton & Tomlinson 2013, NCSBN 2011, ANA n.d). Disadvantages can range from breach of confidentiality, improper use, distractions, providing false information, and of course any information posted to the internet becomes permanent (NCSBN 2011, ANA n.d). However, if social media is used in the right way and for the right purpose most of these disadvantages can easily be eliminated.
As I move forward with educating myself how to be a better Educator, I plan to perform more research on the uses of social media and how they operate so that I can better communicate and connect with my students. I believe that this course is one step in the right direction which is also why I chose the social media learning option. I need to learn more about what the students use in order to understand why they can’t easily disconnect with it. After all, Bowen (2012) states that the third step to embracing E-Communications is to begin to understand it as “it is impossible to critique something well that you do not fully understand.” (pg 31). My plan is to embrace the challenge, embrace social media and begin to use it more and more as I become comfortable with it. Who knows I might have to trade with my students; I’ll share my knowledge if they teach me about social media.

American Nurses Association (ANA) (n.d) Fact Sheet. Navigating the World of Social Media. Retrieved on Jan 19/14 from

Betton, V & Tomlinson, V (2013). Benefits of Social Media for Nurses and Service Users. Retrieved on Jan 19/14 from

Bowen, J (2012) Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. First Edition. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco CA

National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) (August 2011). White Paper: A Nurse’s Guide to the Use of Social Media. Retrieved on Jan 19/14 from

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Educating Our Future Nurses One At A Time

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