Nursing Students and FaceBook episode #3,148

social Media and HIPAA

we’ve all heard the warnings about nursing students who posted patient information on Facebook.

Social Media and Job Hunting

I myself wrote a past blog warning students to be careful what they post on FaceBook since future employers nowadays are always reading your stuff. They tend to question your judgment if you post a lot of photos in which you are drinking champagne out of a slipper or displaying ink in places normally covered by clothing.

Social Media and student-faculty interactions

this one is new. and you heard it here first :-)

A couple of weeks ago some students who are about to graduate let me in on a secret. Since the very first semester of nursing school, they have all been members of a secret FaceBook page which is limited to members of their cohort. They have used it to coordinate such things as group assignments, carpooling, social gatherings (of course!), study groups, and the like.

and what was new?

The new part was, this particular group has also shared considerable information about the faculty, such as comments made on evaluations and emails in response to questions asked by members of the group. Every time a class officer asked for clarification on any item, the reply was posted.

It is a longstanding tradition in academia that students “scope out” the faculty, and there are public websites such as where they can post an evaluation. A couple of years ago, I applied for a nursing faculty job and the search committee chair had read my reviews there. It’s part of your portfolio now, whether you like it or not. For that matter, I did a YouTube search on a school of nursing in the northeast, and found a video the nursing students had made as a farewell to their faculty. it was not a slick Public Relations Video but it was a gold mine of information….. In that case, it made me want to work there!

something that surprised me was that a faculty person had sent a student an email describing the student as “rebellious” – a word choice I would have never made, even if I thought it was apt. In context, it seemed to be a putdown. It was there for the entire cohort to read and digest. There were other examples in which a given faculty was disrespectful toward a given student. This was a shock, but it backfired – I just don’t think the faculty expected that the student would share the email with everybody.


for the students: I can’t say I blame you for using a new route to communicate with each other. In fact, you are advocating for yourself in a powerful way. I guess I would hope that you are doing it with a sense of positivity. I actually think every student cohort should do this. I have worked in settings where the staff did something similar using a notebook or other tools. It’s professional nursing behavior. it really is.

Let me expand on that last point: if you are to be a lifelong learner, you will need to figure out ways to mobilize resources, develop theories about the way some new disease works, and test out possible responses. As a professional nurse, when you do this learning-from-your-direct-experience strategy, we call it “praxis” – the essence of development. Teams of nurses do this. Yes they really do.

for the faculty:  some of these are old rules. never put anything in writing for one student which you don’t think will be read by every student. don’t use personal attacks or attribute motivation that would be not correct – focus on specific behaviors instead. A new faculty in particular, needs to learn how to welcome feedback. Realize that the students will be “scoping you out” and organizing themselves this way.

Finally – a question –

have you noticed this at your school? want to share examples?



Filed under classroom management, nursing education

2 responses to “Nursing Students and FaceBook episode #3,148

  1. Susan Manley

    Social media is a double-edged sword: it makes staying in contact easier and faster and in many ways more direct – even though tone and intent can be missing or misconstrued from the message. My nursing class had/has a Facebook page just for us where we’d post websites we’d found helpful to explain a complicated subject or to plan things ahead of time. It was helpful in many ways. BUT. There are people I went to school with who I didn’t want to be privy to my private life. I am pretty suspicious of who can or can’t see my information, what I write on someone else’s page. And I also don’t want to be associated with people who write foul things about others, share information that could violate sensibilities or laws or confidences, as some of my classmates did – not maliciously or in retaliation, but because they weren’t thinking about possible repercussions.
    Not my problem, their lack of judgment – but it could reflect poorly on me somehow and after all my hard work and dollars spent I’m not taking chances.
    So I disengaged from the group – and it cost me in some ways with my “good” classmates but those who cared enough to stay close did so via the telephone or coffee or study groups or beers after a test.
    I think the point of being and staying “connected” should be to make good choices today because in this age of flying, invisible information oozing out of our personal electronics, the future is unknown and Big Brother may indeed be watching.

    • thank you for this perspective. I have written several blogs about this very topic before. i agree with your points.

      Role Socialization is one of the underlying issues. students need to learn the ins and outs of what it means to be a professional person.

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