Social Networking and the Work Place

Employees where I work have found Facebook.

Before you manager types in the world get up in arms about your worker bees wasting time, please hear me out.

While on the Doctor Anonymous show last week, I mentioned that Nursing needed its own tipping point. The profession needs that special something like what the television show ER did for emergency medicine, and the show CSI did for forensics.

Mark my words:

Our path is not going to come from television or the movies. The nursing profession will be profoundly changed from the Internet.

All professions intertwined in healthcare, for that matter, will be changed profoundly by the Internet.

How is that?

Quite simply, those in the field who have taken the time to blog, participate in chat rooms, answer emails, post videos, create podcasts, and host Internet radio shows are the tip of the spear. The spear of change.

I made mention that we are creating a world in which doctors, nurses, students, x-ray techs, medics, and patients come to the table as equals. There has been none of the “nurses eat their young,” type of attitude. Quite the opposite as a matter of fact.

Last week, Dr. A was as excited as I was for my being a guest. The chat room for his show is continuously filled with students, nurses, medics, and physicians. Sometimes there are even those who are none of the above. A physician who promotes all equally. A chat room filled with professionals glad to see each other. An avenue for open dialog, idea sharing, bad jokes and equality in camaraderie.

It is about communication. Through social networking online, we are breaking down a number of barriers to practice. Instead of seeing each other as a medic or doctor or patient, we are able to see the person first, the job second. We are breaking down international barriers as well. I have corresponded with a nurse from South Africa, one from the South Pacific, a physician in India, a medic in Europe, just to name a few. We ask about differences in practice, education and work atmosphere.

Age and experience matters not. Dr. Schwab, and Dr. Bates are two whom I have been more than taken with. Neither are old, but both bring such experience to the table that I sit in awe at their words, their stories and their willingness to encourage and mentor.

The new nursing students and medics I am in absolute love with. Their passion for learning and hunger to gain experience makes me excited about doing my job. Lucid and EE I follow with great hope and interest as their careers unfold.

Viral memes and internet awards are passed from one to another with amazing thought. I was given the Arte Y Pico award, which I will write about soon, by Someonetc who is an orthopaedic surgeon. A physician recognizing an nurse who was recognized by a surgical first assistant. I ask you, in what other realm is this reality?

I am also beginning to see social networking roll into my real world as well. Those I work with have found Facebook. As a manager I would have to ask myself, “How is this a good thing?” As an employee I, in turn ask, “How is it not?” Social networking sites, when used appropriately open communication, build friendships, and promote a team atmosphere.

For example, I walk into work and am asked, “Hey, did you get that flair I sent you?” or, “Hey, about that text message I sent . . .” My favorite, however, is when, in mid conversation, someone pipes up, “Hey Emily! You need to blog that!” Active participation in networking and information sharing over and above the workplace. Why would a manager not encourage that type of interaction?

Facebook has been taken to the next level in my work interactions outside of the hangar. In my friends list, I not only have those I see everyday at the flight company I work for, but also nurses, techs and physicians in our emergency room, OR and ICU as well as pharmacists in our satellite pharmacy and medics that work in our area. With very little effort, I am able to keep up with and interact with all of them in a way I would be unable to otherwise. When I walk in to the ER with a nasty trauma, or land on a gnarly scene, it takes very few words and a glance to reconnect with these friends in the physical world, and in an unspoken manner we feel part of a group, part of the team. A team that will attempt to do anything and everything for the person we are trying to save.

I am also fortunate that this rolls over into my Army world as well. I get messages and “pokes” from fellow soldiers, just letting me know that I am part of who they are just as much as they are part of me.
Wendy, one of our flight dispatchers, sent me this photo of herself and Maria, another of our dispatchers over Facebook. They are medics for a local EMS agency and Wendy is also a nursing student. After telling Maria what an awesome photo it was, I asked if I could put it up on my blog.

Her response? “Of course Emily, that is why we took it!”

Little did she, or I realize that it would spark such a blog post.

Wendy And Maria
(l-r) Wendy and Maria

I cannot wait to see how our professions meld and evolve in the future. We must, as the grunt workers, continue to fertilize this avenue of making our jobs easier, our interactions more positive, and healthcare stronger.


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  1. I really enjoyed this post and wouldn’t argue at all. But I think it will take much longer than you are intimating. The health professionals I live and work with still view social networking with huge suspicion. But on a personal level, it has been life-changing for me. cheers Sarah

  2. I am sure that it will take a bit longer, but from my vantage point, things are skewed because I stand so close to it! I am also lucky to work with a progressive bunch of nerds. *ducks flying macintosh blades*

    Actually, I say that in jest, but they really are great!

  3. I guess I would fall somewhere into the middle of the list 0of people you mentioned that get connected via blogging/facebook/myspace/etc. I’m a pilot – air traffic controller trainee – and someone who is very interested in getting into volunteering at my local FD and getting my EMT-B.

    You meet the coolest people on the intraweb – thank you for sharing with us!

  4. I am jumping in the social med-network boat with you. I have been waiting for the bubble to burst for the nursing world for some time now. Just like you mentioned ER and CSI for their respective careers, I too am wanting to be a part of the ‘movement’.
    Great post crze. Great post.

  5. I completely agree with you! I’ve been blogging for over three years, write and blog at NurseLinkUp, connect with nurses on NurseConnect and NursingLink, use several Ning sites, and also am on Facebook. It’s overwhelming at times, but the level of connection and interaction would have been unfathomable even five years ago. I’m so glad that you’ve brought this up, and I also see how blogging has revolutionized the world, journalism, and connectivity.

    I appreciate your thoughts, and am very interested in how things evolve from here!

  6. Our wonderfull place of employment has in there infinate scope blocked said social network site to better promote productivity. WTF i type. anyone who also works at the lowest paying hospital in the nation, and you know who you are, should know that it is only blocked on the wireless network, not wired. so where ther is a will there is a way. F them bastards HOOAH!!!

  7. I totally agree that being able to “socialize” on the web is a great way to connect but also decompress. Who better to know and understand a grueling shift than someone who has walked your shoes. Sometimes it is also good to connect with others in the profession who may not necessarily work with you. has a forum tread and also a “Chat” group called Decompression Room for exactly this.
    By the way, anyone interested in sharing more information about flight nursing?? I think a lot of people looking at nursing would be so interested in hearing the different factions of nursing opportunities available to them. We would love to publish your “blog” or article on! Please contact me at -thanks, Jenny!

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