How Twitter can boost your nursing mojo

As Revalidation bites, we’re all on the look out for ways to fill those 35 hours of CPD, especially the 20 hours of participatory learning.  Did you know that taking part in professional conversations on Twitter can be used?  If you’ve never considered the professional benefits of social media, you may think Twitter is all about cats:


Aww, he’s so cute.

And there is no denying that cats own the internet.

But there is so much more to Twitter for nurses and health professionals, something which the NMC recognise.  We even have our own dedicated community space in the form of @WeNurses and the We Communities.  But before we go any further, let’s remind ourselves of the key elements of ‘Participatory Learning’ for Revalidation:

“To meet the participatory learning requirement, you simply have to undertake activity that involves interaction with one or more other professionals. This can be in a physical environment or a virtual one – you don’t have to be in the same room as the people you undertake the activity with.”

I clarified with the NMC (via Twitter, of course) that professional Twitter chats could be included:


OK, so now we know we can use Twitter to support CPD.  But why bother?  There are plenty of other ways to get your hours in, aren’t there?   If you’re unfamiliar with the platform, it may be difficult to see how this global conversation and cat gallery can have anything to offer nurses.

I spoke to Teresa Chinn MBE, founder of the WeNurses community and asked her why she first took to twitter.

I started WeNurses because I was an isolated agency nurse and wanted to reach out and discuss nursing issues and best practice with a few other nurses.  Social media gives nurses a world of expertise and opportunities in the palm of their hand.”

With nearly 48,000 followers, WeNurses has spawned similar communities across the board of healthcare professionals, including paramedics, pharmacists, midwives and many more.  Hosting regular twitter ‘chats’, it offers an unprecedented opportunity to discuss a broad range of clinical issues with peers.

There are benefits to twitter beyond Revalidation, as Teresa points out:

Social media is immensely valuable for nurses not only for what it can offer us in terms of CPD, learning and support but also with how it helps us to shape our digital identities as individuals and as a profession.”  

But what is a digital identity and why does it matter?  Consider the recent junior doctors strike.  Junior doctors presented a professional, vast, visible, united front on social media. Everything that we respect and admire in our medical colleagues was encapsulated in their digital identity.  Twitter is a public platform for us to showcase our professional identity and demonstrate to the world that we are a credible, educated, compassionate, dedicated, connected workforce.     

Like anything new, twitter may seem scary and deter those who are unfamiliar with it, something Teresa recognises:

“Sometimes its about showing [nurses] the possibilities and how it can help them in terms of learning or CPD.  Sometimes its about allaying fears around connecting in such a wide open space as a nurse and talking those through.”

For the new generation of nurses, the majority of whom will be ‘digital natives’, social media is likely to be a far less daunting professional space.  Indeed, they will play a fundamental role in shaping nurses digital identity.

Second year student nurse, Zoe Butler is a blogger and active member of the WeNurses twitter community.  I asked her how social media had benefited her professionally:

“Twitter has vastly increased my ability to network, develop and learn with not only fellow students, but also health professionals who I would not have had the opportunity to meet.”

Zoe talked of the opportunity to discuss clinical issues, challenging her practice and perceptions, stating this has “allowed me to be a more confident and considerate practitioner.”  Her engagement in social media has led to opportunities in her professional life which she argues she simply would not have been exposed to otherwise.

As Zoe points out however, it’s essential that we abide by the NMC Code and our employers social media policy when taking to social media.  A recent investigation by the Nursing Standard found that twenty nurses had faced Fitness to Practice proceedings between 2012 and 2015 for improper conduct on social media.  Social media platforms are public spaces, regardless of our privacy settings.

As Zoe points out though,

“If we portray a positive message that shows care, compassion and a love of nursing, this surely is allowing patients to see how passionate we are about their health and well-being.”

It is fantastic to hear the next generation of nurses speak with such passion about our profession, something Teresa echoed when i asked her how to engage nurse colleagues with twitter:

 “It can be hard at times to get nurses to see the value, however I have always gone with the mantra that if I can show just one nurse the difference it can make to them then I would have made a difference.”  

Spoken like a true nurse.

So, are you ready to take the plunge and boost your nursing mojo?  The WeCommunities site has a fantastic ‘Twitterversity’ for everyone; from absolute beginner to advanced tweeter.  Find it here.

©Jo Higman

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