Challenge: Social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Ning, have surpassed email as the preferred communication tool among the majority of traditional college students. Given the high volume of use, it is inevitable that some students in undergraduate, graduate, and professional academic programs use Facebook to discuss school activities, including clinical-related experiences. Doing so could cause breach of patient, colleague, or student privacy, resulting in potential legal issues. Also, since it is common practice for recruiters to screen job candidates using Internet search engines (that often draw data from social sites), students’ normal use of social networking sites to post opinions, photos, and discussions may inadvertently have a negative impact on their professional opportunities.
Solution: We developed two online, self-paced courses: one for students and one for faculty and preceptors. The courses introduce the current state of social networking; allow learners to reflect on personal beliefs about online social networking and professionalism; and provide experience evaluating common social networking challenges by applying e-professionalism concepts and guidelines.
Impact: At the conclusion of the course, learners have an opportunity to reflect on their current use of social networking tools and how they may change their approach. Learners also receive guidelines for maintaining a ‘positive online presence’ that can help them advance their careers.