Social Media: Does it have a place in Community Health Nursing Education?

Melissa Myers, DNP, RN, PHN, CNE, CPN | Associate Professor, Chamberlain University, College of Nursing, RN to BSN Online Degree Completion Option

Lisa A. Pardi DNP, MSN, MBA, RN, FNAP | Assistant Dean of Faculty, Chamberlain University, RN to BSN Online Degree Completion Option

ACHNE

Let’s face it, social media is a part of our lives whether we like it or not. So as nurse educators, how can we use it for good, and empower students to deliver health information that is valid? In a world that changes in the blink of an eye, we need to be innovative and current with nursing education in community health. In the online environment, courses are created before they are taught, so how can we change them on the fly? We have looked to social media to help us, more specifically, Twitter. We cannot predict epidemiological outbreaks like COVID, monkeypox, gun violence, or disasters, but do you know who keeps up to date with these headlines? Social media. 

In our community health course, we have linked a Twitter feed into our discussions. The feed is updated regularly with retweets of our choosing that are relevant to a weekly discussion topic or maybe just to a current event. Twitter is not meant to replace scholarly articles or research but is meant to be a real-time inspiration for students’ posts. For example, we may be discussing healthcare policy in a week there is a shooting that is racially motivated. According to Gazza (2019), the use of Twitter can help students to understand how policies impact outcomes in the present time. We could not have predicted this when the course was developed but we can use this type of event to discuss the role of policy in violence. 

Some of the feedback received from students about the use of social media in the course can be negative.  Many students see social media as a place for misinformation (and it is). Therefore, it’s crucial as nurses, we understand the influence social media has on our patient’s health. Having discussions relevant to current happenings locally, nationally, and across the globe helps to make the education applicable to practice. A goal of using social media in discussions is that the next time a student is helping a patient, is on a hospital committee looking to update policies, or is on a social media platform, they are aware of events and how they relate to our nursing profession. 

References

Gazza, E. A. (2019). Using Twitter to engage online RN to BSN students in health care policy.  The Journal of Nursing Education 58(2), 107-109.

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