#SoMe & Healthcare Professionals

In my post-Christmas, New Year state of mind I have decided that my addiction (like plenty of other people's) to Facebook needs to stop. I have come to the realisation that going to the bathroom has become synonymous with Facebook time. I can almost hear the cries of horror but the reality is I am not the only person to catch up with "friends" while sitting in the loo!

That said I have some real separation anxiety about downing my phone and not looking at Facebook. What will I do with my time? How will I bore people with check in's at yet another hotel? How will I know what personality, class or educational level I belong to?

In all seriousness however there is a lot of good information on social media and moreover there seems to be a tight community of health care professionals on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to name a few. These platforms are not only utilised by practitioners but it would also appear that the vast majority of healthcare companies (including RIG Healthcare!) who also have pages and share their news via these feeds. A quick glance at any of these can actually give great insight into the world in which we all work.

A “professional” benefit of social media is the potential transfer and thus expansion of knowledge that may be gained from these communities! If companies, scholars and let us not forget the staff on the ground are producing papers, articles and general information about their practice we have access to instant CPD without having to leave the comfort of our own homes. Not only this but we can have a dynamic interaction with these people; asking questions and making comments while simultaneously reading what others think. Suddenly we all have the ability to use this as part of our reflective practice.

There is of course a cautionary aspect to all of this and by no means is this limited to information about health. We have all at one time or another, I am sure, fallen into the “I read it on Facebook, so it must be true” trap or relied on a relationship status to inform us of a friends relations. This false confidence however is one we must all be wary of. Social media is not the absolute! We must never forget to use our own judgement and experience to ensure the “facts” are indeed correct. Anybody can write for the internet!!

I haven’t even touched on the use of social media by patients who may wish to find out more information about diagnosis, treatments and indeed prognosis or just share their very personal journey. We as professionals have the ability to weed out the facts from the fiction in a way that patients do not and we must always be mindful and thoughtful of this when we ourselves are posting.

It is beyond no doubt that social media has a lot to answer for, but as a professional tool it has the ability to be incredibly powerful and empowering, when used correctly. Am I am now “Facebook free?” We’ll say 50:50, more Facebook-lite! I quite simply miss some of that professional networking; my bathroom however does now have a large pile of books in it!


David Birchmore

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