The Dangers of Facebook
Neil Graham; Philippa Moore
Increasing numbers of doctors and medical students are turning to websites such as Facebook to make friends, chat, and organise social events. These innovations have made some aspects of life easier and are a powerful tool for communication, but they also blur the line between our personal and professional personas. With the veneer of friendship that's offered on these sites, it's all too easy to reveal more information than is appropriate. If this information falls into the wrong hands, problems can arise about your integrity, employment, and fitness to practise medicine.
In a recent study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the Facebook profiles of a group of medical students in Florida were scrutinised with the aim of establishing how dangerous Facebook could be in the intersection of personal and professional identities. The study found some profiles publicly displaying photographs of trainee medics drinking to excess, engaging in sexual behaviour, and, in one instance, posing with a dead racoon. Three of the 10 students in the sample had also joined groups on Facebook that could be interpreted as sexist or racist.
Whether the private activities of a medical professional have an impact on their ability to practise is debatable, but it cannot be denied that putting private material in such a public arena has the potential to undermine trust in the profession.
What's interesting about this is that Doctors are normal people (surprised?). We get up to the same shit that others do. That's why Scrubs is such a bloody realistic show! Believe it or not.
The difference now? Our real personalities are available on the web for our patients to see. If we're not careful. Suddenly they know we're not God. Bummer.