Nurse online, Nurse offline – learning to be a digital professional

Wendy Sinclair @wlasinclair and Moira McLoughlin @levylass – University of Salford

Undergraduate student nurses are not only challenged with the theoretical and clinical aspects of their ever changing role, but also the need to learn and maintain professionalism. There is also an expectation that student nurses will demonstrate professional conduct from the time they commence their programmes and this is applicable both on and off line (NMC 2015). To prevent the growing number of students under investigation for professional misconduct on social media platforms it was considered necessary to demonstrate to student nurses from the outset what it means to be both digitally responsible and professional. Not only is this essential for completion of undergraduate programmes, but professional conduct is essential for maintaining registration as a nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

This paper will explore how academics have used personal twitter accounts, a dedicated school twitter account curated in partnership with students and staff, and Facebook pages and groups, to not only engage differently with students but also to role model online professional conduct. While many academics and student nurses have been reluctant to engage with using social media for anything other than personal use, we have actively encouraged the use of social media through twitter and Facebook both in and out of the classroom, for example utilising twitter chats and dedicated hashtags that are also embedded in to the virtual learning environment. We will discuss and demonstrate how we as nurse academics and social media role models have begun to influence the online conduct of students on undergraduate programmes bound by the rules of a regulatory body.