Is anyone not on it? Even if you’re shunning the usual suspects of Facebook and Instagram you probably still use social media. Social media is defined as online interaction, this blog is a type of social media, so are WhatsApp, LinkedIn and any online forum where you participate, share content or network.
Why do I need to be careful on social media?
The GDC published guidelines for the safe and professional use of social media in 2016. I’ve linked this in the references but the key points are:
- Don’t post anything which could identify a patient without their explicit consent
- Make sure you’re maintaining professional boundaries with patients and other members of the dental team
- Maintain the public’s confidence in the profession
- Check if your employer has a social media policy and stick to it.
Basically use your common sense, it is not a good idea to upload anything which a patient could see which might make you look unprofessional. For example if you’re going to upload 20 stories of you doing shots on a night out either make sure you’re page is private enough that no-one you wouldn’t want to can see it or just rethink your post.
Not only could posting something unprofessional make you look bad and damage your reputation it could also see you facing disciplinary action and in every tabloid… every newspaper loves a bad dentist story.
It’s also important to be aware of groups you’ve joined and anything you comment on. Remember that anyone can screenshot your actions and even if you meant a comment well, taken out of context it might look inappropriate if it ends up as a Daily Mail headline.
There are lots of dental groups, especially on Facebook. Some people find these useful for interacting with dental colleagues and they may provide you with much needed support in your Foundation Year. Again it’s important to be really careful what you write, don’t write anything which could be taken as inappropriate about a patient. Also it’s not a good idea to post any unguarded comments about your lecturers, Uni or colleagues. Any of these could lead to you being brought up in front of the GDC.
Social media is not the correct forum for raising concerns- if you have a concern about a colleague or patient you need to raise this in the appropriate channels- through practice, your DFT group or to the GDC if very serious.
If a patients complains through social media for example by leaving a negative google review, this can be very frustrating. If you are going to reply you need to really consider what you’re going to say, it may be best not to reply at all, or politely ask for this person to contact your practice to discuss their concerns.
What if a patient adds me on social media?
Have you seen the TikTok trend where the music changes and goes all dramatic and it says ‘RUN’??
Maybe you don’t have to actually run, but I would never accept a current or past patient as a friend on any social media, unless you have a professional dental page. It is important to keep professional boundaries with our patients.
There is the GDC side of this, follow the standards, maintain the patient’s confidence in the profession. But there is also the personal safety side, how many of you have read this recent BBC news article?
Obviously that is a very extreme case, but imagine how easy it would be for a patient or anyone else to track you down if you post everything online.
If a patient questions you on why you haven’t accepted their request you can explain that as a professional you are not allowed to accept friend requests from patients.
If you’re going to post anything online, treat it as if it will be there forever, because even if you delete it, someone may have screenshot it already.
So is social media all bad??
Especially at present, with Coronavirus social media has never been more useful. It’s brilliant for keeping up with current practice at the minute with rapidly changing guidelines due to the pandemic.
There are also private pages just for dental professionals which you can join and discuss cases- just make sure anything you upload is anonymised to protect patient’s confidentiality.
It is great to have a platform to discuss cases, revision and current dentistry with colleagues. What seems like every dentist under the age of 35 now has a professional Instagram and this can be a great way of showcasing your work, encouraging others and also advertisement to patients. Just remember if you’re going to name your page Dr *** you need to make clear that you are a dentist and once registered include your GDC number.
When you are now maybe doing much more study from home it can feel a bit lonely so it’s great to be able to go on Instagram and see how your colleagues are getting on.
Our Instagram at DentalSJT is our main platform, I’m not sure how many of you would even have heard of us if you hadn’t seen it? Also it is beautifully curated so obviously a real treat to look at! I am this Llama… and our Instagram is my art.
As for DFT SJT study there is probably more revision material on blogs and Instagram than in any of the books available. On the run up to the SJT we’re going to be releasing more blog posts, revision tips and practice questions on Instagram so stay tuned.
Situational Judgement Test practice question- consider the following scenario:
Q You are halfway through an extensive treatment course with a patient, there will be at least 3 more appointments. He tries to follow you on Instagram, you are worried if you don’t accept he will be upset and the next appointment will feel awkward. What do you do?
PS. Did you see our blog post last week about the GDC Standards of the Dental Team? If not- check out the link here: https://dentalsjt.com/gdc-standards-dental-team/
British Dental Association. Dental Practices can take advantage of social media - here's why and how. Online information available at https://bda.org/news-centre/blog/dental-practices-can-take-advantage-of-social-media-%E2%80%93-heres-why-and-how
General Dental Council. Guidance on using social media. Online information available at https://www.gdc-uk.org/docs/default-source/principle-4/guidance-on-using-social-media.pdf?sfvrsn=abf03a63_2
Bhola S and Hellyer P. The risks and benefits of social media in foundation training. Br Dent J 2016; 221:609-613.
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