Social networking has become an inevitable part of our daily lives and although social media and healthcare privacy are not exactly two sides of the same coin, you need to be very careful about how you socialize because social behavior on social networking websites could have a significant contribution to make towards shaping your future career.
These social networking websites have grown by leaps and bounds (the code of conduct has also changed tremendously) over the last couple of years but so have the medical schools and universities who have already embraced social networking and made it a part of the learning curve. Most medical schools and universities have already got a defined set of guidelines that they expect their students to follow while socializing online.
Now, why is it important for medical students to “behave” themselves while socializing online? Social networking, as it used to be some 5to 7 years back, isn't only about having an online presence - it is now seriously considered as an identity replica by the corporate world which does not have enough time to go through background check reports and small details in a curriculum vitae - the only option they are left with is to take people on face value and that is what calls for “socially responsible behavior” on social networking websites. So, that actually translates to medical schools and universities creating a set of social media policies that can help inexperienced students have better profiles and the behavioral patterns on social media websites. Just warning them is not going to do the job because everyone would interpret the instructions differently - only a written set of guidelines is going to help them.
As a matter of fact the popularity of social media policies has also grown by leaps and bounds. More and more people have realized the benefits. But the million dollar question is “what needs to go into those policies”? Some of the key things that need to be integrated in social media policies include:
- The student should be selective about where he establishes a profile. His online presence should mirror his professional responsibilities and interests - he should never go overboard.
- A student should remember that having profiles on online social networking websites does not make him a different person - he is the same professional and his behavior should match his professional profile.
- He should be very selective about what he makes public and what information he keeps under wraps.
- Students should understand that every online behavior can be recorded and monitored. It's best to think twice before displaying certain characters online. His behavior should in no way be able to tarnish his professional reputation.
- A medical student also needs to understand that deceit and pretence are not supposed to be considered positive traits in health professionals and he should steer clear of such things while socializing online.
There is another huge benefit offered by social media policies. A set of written guidelines is also going to make sure that the privacy of the patients remains intact and that does not jeopardize the careers of young medical professionals. It was found out in a study in 2010 that medical students not having a “respectable” social media behavioral pattern are more prone to diagnosing patient information on social media websites. That could be a dangerous thing and could seriously jeopardize the careers of young medical professionals.
Dr. Gregory J. Mackay is a board certified atlanta cosmetic surgeon by the 'American Board of Surgery' who practices for “The beauty of knowledge”