SoMe, SoWhat? #SoEssential: using social media as a key learning and teaching tool

Professional and student guidanceProfessional guidance on the use of social media by paramedics has been issued by the College of Paramedics (CoP, 2016). This guidance covers how to use social media effectively and responsibly, including what to avoid publishing. It encourages users to ‘stop and think’ before posting, and is cautious, tentative and full of warnings. However, it does not mention how social media can be exciting, or how it has the possibility to change and influence practice.The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)—the regulator of the paramedic profession—has very similar advice to that of the College when it comes to social media, emphasising how it should be used responsibly. In a key change to their professional standards, appropriate social media use has been incorporated as a key standard in both professional and student guidance (HCPC 2016a; HCPC, 2016c). The HCPC have also recently consulted on further developing a policy for social media (HCPC, 2016b).Teesside University has its own policy on social media, which follows the main threads of the College of Paramedics and HCPC guidance. The guidance offered is of course very welcome, but the pace and development of these and other platforms are phenomenal. It is the lead author's view that the professional and regulatory bodies need a more positive and stronger focus on the benefits of social media for healthcare professionals.‘Social media allows you to create your own identity built upon self-expression and your own “personal brand”

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