Social media, personal and professional lives

Digital social media like Facebook, You Tube, Twitter are used widely by health care professionals, professional organisations and the wider public on a daily basis. While the merits of these media are well known, especially in terms of finding out information and exchanging knowledge, one anathema of social media, especially with Facebook and Twitter, is the blurring of boundaries between one’s professional and private life. Privacy settings are often beyond the control of the user. It’s fairly easy in many cases to pry into one’s life, either on purpose or by accident. While the Royal College of General Practitioners has issued guidance on how doctors should engage with social media [1], to date, such guidelines have not been issued by our professional body to my knowledge. Of course, there are guidelines on professional and ethical conduct issued by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists as well the Health and Care Professions Council but the recent emphasis on personal values in the NHS [2] should make us reflect as to how we use social media. For some “acceptable” behaviour may be “unacceptable”, yet for others it may not. Diversity in most of its guises should be welcomed.

The following ten-step user’s guide on social media has been adapted from the “Social Media Highway Code” [1]

  1. Be aware of the image you present online and manage this proactively
  2. Recognise that the personal and professional can’t always be separated (good idea to have separate personal and professional accounts)
  3. Engage with the public but be cautious of giving personal advice
  4. Respect the privacy of all patients/clients, especially the vulnerable
  5. Show your human side, but maintain professional boundaries
  6. Contribute your expertise, insights and experience
  7. Treat others with consideration, politeness and respect
  8. Remember that other people may be watching you
  9. Support your colleagues and intervene when necessary
  10. Test out innovative ideas, learn from mistakes – and have fun!

And here’s a list of some personal favourites, worth following:


Dorothy Bishop’s blog

ASHA on You Tube

Christos Salis                                                                                                                         Lecturer in Speech & Language Sciences                                                                               Speech & Language Therapist



[1] Royal College of General Practitioners (2013). Social Media Highway Code. London: Royal College of General Practitioners.                                                                               [2] The NHS constitution for England. Retrieved 28 March 2015.