Social media: Unlocking the potential

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Teresa Chinn looks at how nurses can use social media for professional purposes

During the past few years we have seen a huge growth in the use of social media in the healthcare sector. It was only a year ago that Ferguson1 questioned whether health would start to leverage the potential of social media. The answer, one year on, is a clear and resounding yes. Dr Kate Granger's 'Hello my name is' campaign, the #WeNurses Twitter chats and student nurse Charlotte Johnson's #StopThePressure conference all started on social media, and have been a powerful force for change. They show that there is no doubt that social media can and is being used effectively in healthcare.

However, while there are a few social media pioneers there is still a long way to go in unlocking the true potential of social media. There are many who do not see the benefits and still regard it as a social pastime and not as a serious way for nurses to communicate, connect and make a difference to the people they care for.
Forty-seven per cent of the UK population uses social media2 which equates to a number of nurses potentially already using it in one form or another to connect with friends and relatives. The challenge now is to capitalise on this social phenomena and promote it as a serious communication tool for 21st century nursing. So how are nurses using social media? What are the benefits to nurses? What are the benefits to patients? What is the potential fo


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