Does social media have a place in healthcare?
Friday, June 13, 2014
Just like many of you, I have been on the Facebook bandwagon for quite some time. I have really enjoyed it as I have lived all over the country, and it has been a great way to keep up with old friends. But does it have a place in a healthcare career or profession?
As I have extended my reach into the big, wide Web, I have come to realize there are a lot of outlets for sharing and getting information. Gone are the days when Facebook was the only game in town. Now we have Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Instagram and Google+, just to name a few.
However, just like anything in life, there are certainly pros and cons to these new-found resources.
Pros of social media
Networking — The opportunities for networking have never been greater. In fact, Linkedin was created for this sole purpose and is one of the largest-growing professional networks with over 300 million members. Social media has created an avenue that allows you to rub elbows with influential leaders to whom you previously would not have access.
Twitter is another venue that allows you to meet other professionals of like-minded interest. With Twitter chats you can actually have real-time conversations with industry leaders with everyone's voice being heard and unedited.
Accessibility/reach — In our "right now" society, this has never been more evident that in social media. Breaking news spreads like wild fire, especially on social media outlets. Breaking news is instantaneous and so is new research and innovations. Again, connect with the right leaders, and you have access to cutting-edge information — all from your smartphone.
This also works if you have information to share. If you get connected in the right circles, your news can spread like wildfire. This can also be used on a more intimate level within the workplace by creating private groups on Facebook with co-workers or fellow students. Information can be shared collectively and quickly.
Job search — Not only is a social media a great place to get information about potential employers, it's a great way to find actual employees. Often people will put where they work, so reach out and ask a few questions and get the inside scoop.
Also, many companies put job fairs and employment postings right in their Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. So, if you have a potential employer in mind, get connected.
Cons of social media
Wrong first impression — Social media is not only a part of socializing, but it is also being capitalized on by admissions counselors and job recruiters. Posting pictures of you partying half-naked is not likely to land you that dream job you have been hoping for.
Yes, your profile might be "private," but most tech-savy folks know how to get around those blockades. In fact, it is likely you will have someone mutually in common and then that door is opened. Be careful what you are posting, first impressions are hard to overcome.
Sharing patient information — This is a sensitive issue. There are multiple stories in the media of healthcare providers being reprimanded for inappropriately sharing photos or patient information via social media outlets. Most institutions have implemented strict guidelines to protect them and you — make sure you are following them.
Whether or not you participate in social media, it certainly is here to stay. I recently heard a quote that summed this up, "To find out what happened five years ago, read a book; a year ago, read a journal; the future, follow social media."
Don't be afraid to get connected.
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