Recently, I have been sent copied posts from social media groups and accounts. Although I have written several time on the subject, I would like to take a few minutes to address the use of social media by Healthcare Professionals and to remind us all that anything that you type into the public domain is exactly that, public. It has the potential to be saved, printed and shared, reposted, sent to absolutely anyone.
Although social media has become a way to share our experiences, feelings and opinions it has also become one of the highest areas of risk for healthcare professionals. Licensing bodies across Canada are inundated through the complaints process the use of social media and technology related to boundaries, privacy and confidentiality, professional integrity and public trust.
If you use social media professionally or personally, please consider the risks and benefits AND know your registering body’s and your employer policy around the use of social media in your professional relationships. Reflect on your intent of its use. Always use the same level of professionalism in your online interactions that you would in face to face interactions.
Confidentiality – Healthcare Professionals are required to adhere to the privacy and confidentiality regulations and to their employer’s policy with regards to confidentiality and privacy. Leaving out details when you post information or images does not protect client confidentiality.
Privacy – Setup your online accounts to limit access to your personal information. Always be aware of your privacy settings and know that even if you use the highest privacy settings, other can copy and share your information without your knowledge or permission.
Boundaries – Set and maintain professional boundaries. Communicate these boundaries to clients and end your professional relationships appropriately. Don’t accept “friend” requests from clients or former clients on your personal social media accounts. If you use social media with clients for work, such as client teaching and resource sharing, use a professional account that is separate from your personal one. Be clear about your use of social media and how it supports professional practice and make sure that organizational policies addressing privacy are in place.
Integrity – Protect yours and the profession’s integrity. User proper communication channels to discuss, report and resolve workplace issues – not social media. Refer to colleagues or clients and employers with the same level of respect as you would in the workplace. Before you blog, tweet or share information about your practice and your employment, reflect on your intention and the possible consequences. Even if you don’t post yourself, consider the impact of “liking” someone else’s disrespectful comments.
Accountability – Make sure you can answer for your actions. Reflect on why, how and when you sue social media and help others do the same. Know that personal use of social media while working can create client risk through distraction and interruptions; and in some situations, could have lasting implications on practice.
If you feel uncomfortable discussing your online behaviour with others, consider this a red flag. Use professional judgement to keep your obligations to clients, colleagues and employers front and center.
What does your licensing body say about the use of Social Media in Healthcare Practice? I have included BCCNM’s resources below and invite you to check out all Canadian Healthcare Regulatory Bodies’ statement on the use of social media in professional healthcare practice.
Always consider that what you write online is not private and may not be in line with the professional image you have established through your education and practice.