Monday, September 20, 2010

Social Media and Nursing Staff Development Instructors

I was a speaker at a Nurse Educators Conference recently with close to 200 participants. Everyone in the audience had the opportunity to participate in live polling by using audience response cards. My presentation topic was on the creative use of technology in nursing education.  I used a poll slide that simply asked, “What is your favorite social media site?” The options I listed included: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and SecondLife (I believed this would be a nice way to start this segment of my talk). Once the poll closed only 60 participants had responded. I remarked to the audience, “Only 60 of you responded.” I then asked, “Did I give you enough time to answer?” One educator remarked, “You didn’t list, none.” I looked at the list and said with mild embarrassment, “You’re absolutely right, my error.” For verification, I then asked the audience, “For those who didn’t respond, would you have answered none?” Before me I could see a large portion of the audience nodding their heads in agreement. It appeared as though more than 2/3 of my audience do not engage in social media of any kind.

Many months ago I pitched RNchat to a number of nurse educators when Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: The Future of Nursing was going to submit questions to the weekly nursing discussion group developed by Phil Baumann. I was enthusiastic about the prospect of more educators I personally knew becoming involved in social media and networking. My invitation was met with a less than tepid response. Many expressed that they were too busy. One educator vehemently responded, “I have a big problem with that Twitter.” I was speechless about the strong sentiment yet this particular individual could not articulate what her specific issue was with the site.

According to the initial statistics from the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (HRSA, 2010), the average age of registered nurses in the workface is 47; 16.2% are between the ages of 50-54; hospitals employ 63%; 3.7% are in nursing instruction and 0.3% in informatics. According to the Nursing Faculty Shortage Fact Sheet  by The American Academy of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the age of the” doctorally prepared” associate professor is 56.1 whereas the “masters prepared” age is 55.2. Facebook reports more than 500 million active users. Inside Network detailed that as of July 1, 2010, 80% of all users of Facebook were between the ages of 13-44 and 20% of users were 45-65+. The 45-54 category recorded only 13% as active users and 55-65+ at 7%. Based on these numbers, one can surmise why the use of social media as an educational tool in the hospital setting has been slow. Sadly, misconceptions fueled by headlines that detail firings, and suspensions hamper the adoption of social media. Additionally, in-house restrictions/access to the Internet, filter blocking, and a general lack of time to learn the basics of social networking sites further impacts the ability to launch educational endeavors in this venue easily.

From my perspective: 
  • Administrative and managerial support are vital in promoting and launching the use of social media and web-based education in the hospital environment. 
  • Demonstrate how the concept is of benefit to the institution and in alignment with the strategic plan. 
  • Peer support and buy-in is very important in sending out the message to the rest of the staff. 
  • Align with those who see the value of social media as an educational tool and platform.
  • Dispel misconceptions 
  • Plan to provide training and support for those unfamiliar with its use. 


  1. I can't tell you how excited I am about this website!

    This is incredible and something that needs to happen more. There are so many things happening in nursing. Both nurses and nursing educators work is often hidden, so I want to thank you for sharing what you are learning publicly. This is so useful and important for innovation, sharing ideas, and iterative learning.

    Thanks so much for sharing what you are learning on the intranet on the internet! I can't wait to keep up with what you are doing, I already know I'm going to learn so much!

    All the best,

  2. Thank-you Rob for the lovely post and article that you wrote in Nursing Ideas! I truly appreciate it. Whenever I speak about blogs in presentations I include a story about a young nurse in Canada and is "Nursing Ideas"! Keep up the beautiful work!

  3. Hi Teresa,

    Fantastic new website and not before time. I wish you all the very best in growing it.

    Your conference experience isn't unique, sadly. In April I attended the big international Nursing Education Today conference in Sydney. Over 300 of the worlds nursing and midwifery educators presenting the latest in pedagogical practices and what did we get? Three days of end to end Powerpoint and 'death by bullet point'. With one or two isolated exceptions, it was as if the mobile and social media revolutions had never taken place.

    Truly, we all have work to do.

    Very best wishes
    Prof Philip Darbyshire
    Twitter: PDarbyshire
    Facebook: Philip Darbyshire Consulting

  4. Thank-you Professor Philip for the positive comments!Definitely have our work to do!

  5. If they do not think you are listening, they may say things quite unlike those occasions when they think you are. Using social media to listen to what your stakeholders are saying is another way for you to get in touch with what they really want. buy real active instagram followers