In today’s media-driven society, the boundaries between private and professional life are becoming increasingly blurred. In such a fast-moving environment, it’s all too easy to forget that the same standards of professionalism and confidentiality apply no matter what the medium of communication.
Definition of social media
Social media may be defined as any online interaction that involves a conversation, participation, sharing content or networking. Examples of social media include, but are not limited to, blogs, forums and social networking sites and apps such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp.
Social media guidance for dentists
In 2012, the Dental Council published it’s code of practice Professional Behaviour and Ethical Conduct (2012), which provides guidelines on the safe and professional use of social media.
The guidance states that:
- • Your use of social media should be responsible and discreet.
- • Indiscretion in the use of social media is not acceptable.
Mark, a fourth year dental student, saw a young female patient on the restorative department. Mark took a history from the patient, and realised that she was a first year geography student at the same university.
Mark saw her for a few more appointments to complete her treatment. They seemed to get on well, so Mark invited her to be a friend on Facebook.
After a while, the relationship soured, and the patient complained to the dental school about Mark’s conduct in contacting her and starting a relationship as a result of meeting her as a patient.
- • As a student, professional boundaries may seem blurred. Students may feel that, since they are not fully qualified dentists, the limits around personal relationships do not apply.
- • However, the Dental Council is clear that dentists and dental students are expected to maintain appropriate boundaries in the relationships they have with patients.
- • Think about how you might handle situations like the one above. If you have any concerns, discuss these with your tutors or clinical supervisor.
For more information or guidance around the use of social media or issues you might be facing, call our support and advice line on 01280 8668.