from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a discussion was started that bears more dialogue. We want to hear from you. What do you think? Is it an age thing? A gender thing? An ethnic thing? If you are a nurse, how do you use Social Media?From blogs to Twitter, social media can give nurses a greater voice.
Engaging Nursing Students in Social Media
While SBU has been offering a nursing informatics course for seven years, in the last two years, it has been expanded to include social media. In fact, the course has been transformed. Schmitt requires all her students to do all their work for the class online, attend at least one live chat and create their own Twitter accounts and blogs. The final group projects for the course are put up on SlideShare. “It’s essential for nurses to understand and be familiar with social media,” Schmitt says. “The majority of people get their advice from the internet and as nurses, we need to know what is and isn’t a valid source of information. What’s more, it’s important to realize that, today, informatics is more than emergency medical records and HIPAA violations.”
Schmitt also believes strongly in encouraging nurses to use social media to share information and their ideas. “Nurses are the largest group of health care professionals and the largest group of health care educators. I had all these students doing wonderful work, but they were writing for an audience of one. By blogging they can showcase their work. I want to encourage more nurses to blog because the internet is where people go for health care information.”
Learning to use new technology, especially technology that is widely used by clients and patients is, to Schmitt, an important part of training to be a nurse. But she does see some resistance. “I like to say that social media is like White Castle,” she says. “You either love it or hate it, but in the end, you’ll develop an appreciation for it.” Schmitt also finds that her students are reaping unexpected rewards from their online experiences, “when they get comments on their blogs or their tweets get retweeted, it’s a testament to their depth of knowledge and recognition of work well done.”
Like Baumann and Kelley, Schmitt sees great potential for social media in nursing. She believes that to some extent, the technology may well still be in its infancy. “Social media gives us a place to discuss things openly,” she says. “It can be a place to design research studies and find solutions. It can give nurses a greater voice. This is where nurses can speak up about policy and health care practice and make change.”