Conflicting Demands That Dentists and Dental Care Professionals Experience When Using Social Media: A Scoping Review
Social media is widely used across the globe. Though it keeps us connected and connects us with people we may not have met otherwise, there are negative repercussions that must be considered. In a recent article published in November 2019 in the British Dental Journal, the authors reviewed the conflicting demands encountered by dentists and dental care professionals (DCP) when using social media.1
A survey conducted determined dentists/DCP are utilizing social media for marketing, and those not utilizing it currently for marketing admitted they are planning to do so in the near future. When marketing on social media to promote a dental practice previous studies suggest training courses and clear guidelines on how dentists should use social media for marketing. Opinion articles offer a different perspective, suggesting posting information about events as well as personal and professional content. Though keep in mind these were just opinions.
Students currently in dental and dental hygiene schools have grown up using social media, many don’t recall a time before it existed. In one survey included in the review, the authors found students think Twitter is a useful tool for learning and teaching. Students were interested in incorporating social media into their education. Many liked the idea of using the instant messaging feature to communicate with faculty members. However, faculty members were not keen on the use of instant messaging as they felt it would inhibit students from developing critical thinking skills. Additionally, the faculty members had reservations regarding boundaries. There is a clear conflict between students and faculty members on incorporating social media into educational settings.
Further concerns were expressed by faculty (of dental hygiene programs) regarding the conduct of students when using social media. Respondents of the survey detailed violations of institutions’ social media policy including patient confidentiality, conduct issues, unprofessional comments relating to the school, illegal activity, and discrimination.
Creating clear and practical social media policies presents a problem as the first amendment is often cited as an obstacle. Another more practical option that may carry benefits into the student’s professional life suggested, teaching students how to properly and professionally utilize social media. This could easily be included in the existing curriculum such as ethics and professionalism.
The authors conclude by stating, “The review confirmed that using social media is a source of conflicting demands for dentists and DCPs and found that the main areas were related to marketing and education.”
Does your practice have a social media policy? Do you think you would have benefited from a course that focused on professional social media use? If you are a faculty member, do you allow your students to contact you via social media messaging? If you are a student, did you contact and communicate with faculty via social media messaging?
- C Greer A, W Stokes C, Zijlstra-Shaw S, E Sandars J. Conflicting demands that dentists and dental care professionals experience when using social media: a scoping review. Br Dent J. 2019;227(10):893-899. doi:10.1038/s41415-019-0937-8