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Both healthcare students and professionals should be free to take advantage of the networking benefits that social media can offer.

However, your use of social media and online activity can affect your fitness to practice, and on some occasions mean your expulsion from your course. As soon as you enrol on a healthcare course, your online activity is counted as evidence of your professionalism. Here are some of our top tips for your use of social media at University.  

1. Free speech is an essential part of our society. However, what you say that can and will be scrutinised if people don’t agree or find it offensive. This is what you need to be prepared for whenever you post on social media.  

2.If you wouldn’t do it in person, don’t do it online.

3.Understand that patients, colleagues, institutions and employers may view what you post. If this breaches any ethical boundaries, be aware that you can be held accountable for what you do or say.

Think about how things can be interpreted

Social media just makes our views public and more prone to scrutiny and in the professions studied at the Heath – there is more public scrutiny than ever at the moment. If you wouldn’t say something in the context of your lectures or placement, don’t say it online either. Be sure not to complain about placements or patients online, instead speak to your tutor or Academic representatives

Think about what you post, especially if you’ve had a difficult day or may be frustrated about a situation. There are many other ways to positively influence a situation.

Don’t breach patient confidentiality

Breaches of patient confidentiality don’t just include names; they can also include posting videos or photos of patients themselves, or revealing room numbers and patient records. Never post descriptions of patients, their medical conditions and/ or treatments. It is also unprofessional to refer to patients in a degrading manner. 

Protect your privacy

Change your settings on Facebook and other social media networks to ensure you are not easily searchable by patients. We recommend that you do not add patients or hospital staff as Facebook friends, and make sure your social media settings are private.

Find the best advice

Read advice by external bodies on social media, as there are profession specific guidelines by bodies such as the General Medical Council, Royal College of Nursing, Nursing and Midwifery Council, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, British Association of Occupational Therapists and College of Occupational Therapists, General Dental Council, and Royal College of Radiologists. These guidelines can be found on their websites.

Student Advice 

If you’re concerned about any problems on social media such as your behaviour or harassment, come and talk to Student Advice. They’re the Students’ Union’s free, independent and confidential advice service. Student Advice can meet you at the Students’ Union at the Heath or in the Union building in Cathays.