Social Media and the Dental Hygienist

Most of us have social media accounts or, if we don’t, we certainly know people who do. By social media accounts, we’re talking about a broad range of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus etc.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but you get the idea- social media means many different things and encompasses a variety of platforms with varying purposes and varying reach.

Organizations use social media all the time, @BCDHA is a handle many of you are undoubtedly familiar with!  When an organization tweets the focus is often much broader than an individual because relevant research, policy areas, topics of interest, news etc. are the focus.  The opinion and/or position of the organization is clear, as opposed to the perspectives of the individual. According to the Institutes of Health, 31% of organizations put such a premium on social media use they have developed specific guidelines for its use.  Guidelines of course ensure that everyone within the organization is on the ‘same page’ and that staff are aware of limitations to their actions online.

For healthcare providers, social media presents a host of challenges. It can blur professional and personal lives, it can be a bastion of misinformation and rumours, privacy of patient information can be breached, and we’ve all seen the stories of healthcare providers tarnishing the image of their profession by making dubious choices online. For example, a couple of years ago several nurses (not in Canada) took it upon themselves to photograph themselves with a nude, unconscious patient. These nurses were, quite rightly, subsequently fired.

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