With social media’s influence on the rise, it is easy for us to get swept up into virtual debates, networking and joining various groups for support and social interaction. But how can this influence students who are on a pre-registration course?
I have seen first hand the whirlwind of Twitter chats and observed the passion shared by registered nurses and students alike to welcome newcomers to their online community.
As a September 2020 cohort member, I have been exposed to online communities that are all about nursing, specialisms and inspirational people, who are posting to make a difference.
This has given me drive to join in, share my thoughts and connect with others in a way that is all so familiar to us at the moment, online and through virtual chats.
“I believe that early interactions and exposure to nursing within social media can influence a new student’s perspective on the wider community”
Having the opportunity to connect with other students and staff within the field of learning disability nursing gives a valuable network of peer support and a sense of community – resources, advice and academic discussions at the tap of a button. Shared goals and aspirations show the true passion of the field and it is clear within social media platforms.
However, for a first-year student this may seem intimidating, leading them to ask: Am I doing enough? Am I making a big enough presence? Am I joining in as much as I can?
I believe that early interactions and exposure to nursing within social media can influence a new student’s perspective on the wider community, with the potential for this to influence future decisions made around their career.
Seeing already well-established accounts, groups and events may lead to students becoming overwhelmed at the sheer size and influence that social media has on connecting people – how do you begin to dip your toes in and get involved?
I reminded myself of the Nursing and Midwifery Code of Practice and thought I would gauge what was out there on the internet. The benefits of an online community are clear, all fields of nursing and health professionals coming together in a single forum. However, being open online leaves a certain sense of vulnerability, and an openness to criticism.
Opinions posted online at the peak of an emotive response, may later be criticised for being too harsh or argumentative. It is these negative outbursts, which while providing a release for the writer, can influence a student perspective.
Is this ultimately helpful to the student – exposing them to the reality of practice, the fast-paced environments they will one day work within – or does this plant seeds of doubt about the support they will receive or the things they will experience?
It is without question that social media has far-reaching effects, for students, a useful tool to be used with mindfulness and caution. I am reminded of the code and our duties to uphold professionalism, and how I am representing my university when posting online.
I see how isolation can be combatted via virtual connections, yet still see bitter effects of others tearing each other down and confidence lost due to criticism. First-year students seeing this for the first time may let this dampen their enthusiasm, affecting their confidence to engage.
Ultimately, our experiences shape our perceptions of our nursing careers, how we reflect upon these and how we interact with others. I have felt the benefits of online connections, giving me opportunities that I would not have had if I had not seen them on social media, and for that I am grateful.
As a pre-registration student I see the positives and negatives of social media, and urge all to be kind, reach out, and be mindful of how the things we post can shape future nurses like myself.
Chloe Hawkins is first-year learning disability nursing student, Northumbria University