Professional socialisation, accountability and social media: what’s the relationship and should we care?

Ryan, Gemma Sinead (2017). Professional socialisation, accountability and social media: what’s the relationship and should we care? In: Nursing education and professional development: the global perspective Conference and exhibition hosted by the RCN Education Forum, 21-22 Mar 2017, Cardiff, Wales.



BACKGROUND: The rapid diffusion of social network sites such as Facebook have presented a wealth of challenge and opportunity for the nursing profession. A large majority of student nurses have adopted Facebook but [as developing professionals] may not understand the implications and unintended consequences of the information shared in a personal or innocent way.

No studies have yet critically analysed [in depth] the underlying factors that influence and determine the relationships between professional accountability and social media or if there is actually a ‘problem’ with social media. AIM: Critically analyse the relationships between professional accountability and Facebook during the journey of professional socialisation.

METHOD: Critical realist ethnography employing online observation of three cohort groups, 30 public profiles and professional group discussion topics, focus groups (academic and practicing nursing staff n=8) and semi-structured interviews with student nurses over two sites (n=16).

RESULTS: Critical realist retroductive analysis (Bhaskar, 1998) was developed as part of this study. Three relationships were identified and six models were generated to explain and test proposed mechanisms within the data, which cause these relationships: 1) the concept of professional accountability 2) patterns of use 3) behaviours and activities 4) physical versus online reality 5) unacceptable, acceptable, professional or unprofessional behaviours 6) perceived knowledge and awareness versus actual behaviours.

Three explanatory theoretical concepts were then confirmed and used to develop three critical realist frameworks: I) Socialisation, Professional Socialisation, Online Socialisation (SPO) II) Unacceptable, Acceptable, Unprofessional, Professional (UAPU) and III) Awareness into Action (A2A).

CONCLUSION: I) SPO: This study has indicated a potential ‘tertiary’ or ‘online’ socialisation process and illustrates the factors, context and socialisation informs accountable behaviours; linking the physical and online (personal, public, professional).

II, III) UAPU, A2A: The lack of physical context and presence in the online environment causes dissonance between perceived and actual behaviours and confidence versus competence in the online environment. With further research and validation these three frameworks may be used in education and practice, for personal and group assessment, reflection and/or for raising awareness of good practice online. They may also be used by organisations and professional bodies to assess scenarios or incidents.

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