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Inappropriate use of social media

The Nursing and Midwifery Council of New South Wales received a complaint from an employer concerning a casual assistant in nursing undergraduate, who had been using their personal facebook account to make derogatory remarks about patients. The student identified both their workplace and full names of patients.

The student’s employer conducted an internal review and immediately stopped offering shifts to the student as an assistant in nursing. The student, after initialling denying the claims, admitted to comments stating that it was done in a light-hearted manner and ignoring the seriousness of breaching patient confidentiality. 

As the student was not yet a registered health practitioner, the Council did not have sufficient jurisdiction regarding the student’s conduct and use of social media. However, the Council retains all records of complaints, which can be considered in the event of future notifications. 

Also, students can still face disciplinary action from universities and their employers. In this particular case, the student’s name was placed on the Service Check Register for NSW Health (SCR). Employers have a mandatory requirement to search the SCR to check whether preferred applicants for positions across NSW Health are subject to current enquiries into alleged misconduct or have been found to have engaged in alleged misconduct. 

As future registered health practitioners, students need to be aware of and familiarise themselves with the National Board's Social Media Policy for Registered Health Practitioners and Professional Codes of Conduct.