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Nursing Informatics: Professional Networking

Introduction

Nursing informatics was a real breakthrough at one time. It expanded communication and collaboration possibilities, enabled nurses to collect, store and analyze patients’ data and even noticeably improved patients’ outcomes. Professional networking as a part of nursing informatics brings many advantages to nursing practice as well. However, there still are some challenges to getting through them. This paper reveals and examines both the positive and negative impacts of nursing professional networks and gives several examples of professional networking sites.

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Understanding of the Concept of Nursing Informatics

Nursing informatics has been existing for nearly a hundred years for now. Although the American Nurses Association established certain standards and gave a proper definition to this concept only in 1994, this term appeared much earlier (Maryniak, 2013). It is not surprising since there has always been a need for technologies in nursing practice.

Nursing care is all about information. It encompasses recording and interpreting data about the needs of patients, sending this data to other specialists, developing care plans, finding and analyzing information, making reports, and so on.

The American Nurses Association (2007) defines nursing informatics as “a specialty that integrates nursing science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice” (p. 5). According to the American Nurses Association (2007), data, information, and knowledge are the key elements in nursing practice. The principal privilege of applying technologies for gathering and processing all of these is that it speeds up the whole process and helps to identify potential problems as soon as possible. For this purpose, for example, electronic help records (EHR) are used, where “all of an individual’s interactions with the health care system” are stored electronically (Canadian Nurses Association, 2001, para. 3). Therefore, by finding new solutions and creating innovative devices health care informatics can improve patients’ outcomes.

Presently, nursing informatics is a field that is still growing, so numerous breakthroughs are ahead, and a lot of academic degrees are to be taken.

Professional Networking as a Part of Nursing Informatics

Professional networking can be defined as the online services that enable business interactions and focus on communication between coworkers (or simply the specialists in the same field). Nonbusiness interactions are not stipulated.

Professional networks in nursing practice have many pros and cons, and this part of the paper discusses those.

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Positive Aspects of Using Professional Networking Sites

Experience exchange

The first and the strongest benefit of professional networking is the possibility for nurses to communicate and collaborate. That is where a nurse can meet like-minded people, join their team, share experiences and ideas. “Networking gives you a chance to become part of the nursing profession and not just a bystander” (ANA Career Center Staff, 2015, para. 2). Besides, the users of the networks can also keep pace with new trends and practices.

Career advancement

What is the most fascinating about professional networks is the fact that you can meet both an expert and a beginner there. Therefore, it is a unique opportunity for a newcomer to find a mentor (or even several of them) who would help to learn, give a piece of advice, indicate the errors, and so on. The only problem here is to find a mentor who will have enough time and desire to assist.

Besides, professional networks can make newcomers known, provided that those newcomers actively participate in the networking life. Using the contacts made with the help of such kinds of sites, an individual gets many extra opportunities and can even find a job. Finally, networking sites can be a good place for an organization to find some fresh blood, the talented beginners who show promise.

Better research opportunities

Another reason why professional networks can be useful is that they provide their users with an opportunity to conduct research. Collecting the data for research with the help of the Internet and World Wide Web, the only type of information an individual can get is theoretical (from books, articles, magazines, medical sites, and so on). On professional networking sites, a user can interview specialists or even conduct a survey on the topic he or she is interested in, which will give valuable practical info and statistics. It would be easy to implement since many experts can be found at the same place.

No territorial boundaries

With the help of professional networking, it is possible to reach a person who works in another city, in a different country, or even at the other end of the world. That will help to comprehend nursing concepts from different perspectives and think more globally.

It is easy and free

Finally, professional networks are easy to use and completely free. Thus, the only thing that a person has to invest in to learn and communicate with like-minded people is time. And, some efforts, of course.

Negative Aspects of Using Professional Networking Sites

Security concerns

Privacy and safety issue is probably the first thing that a person would be concerned about if talking about professional networking disadvantages. Indeed, it is the biggest challenge for such kind of services for now. Health care (and nursing as a part of it) is one of the most regulated fields. Nurses have to follow many rules and maintain boundaries, a set of which has been published by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN, 2014). A nurse has to be aware and cognizant and act, first of all, in the interests of the patients. That is why, using professional networks, nurses have to be extra careful and sure that they do not violate any rules. The primary precaution is to control how much information and details you share. Let us, for example, consider the following scenario. A network user posts something interesting about one of the patients changing names but identifying details and shares it only with friends. Several of the user’s friends find this post interesting and share it, and so on. As a result, this post becomes public. Such kinds of situations should be avoided. Moreover, even private messages can not guarantee that the information you send will be protected. Since it is stored on the Internet, there is always a possibility that a network account will be broken by hackers.

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It is not the best possible option

The discussion of complex concepts can be rather difficult without face-to-face communication. People perceive the information in their way, through the prism of emotions, and in the light of their experience and knowledge. And if a discussion contains some complex ideas there is always the risk that those will be misunderstood. On the other hand, sometimes face-to-face communication is impossible (because of long distances, a tough schedule, and so on). To get through this challenge, network users can resort to a Skype connection, for example.

No immediate feedback

Another disadvantage of professional networks in comparison to face-to-face communication is the absence of immediate feedback. To get an answer to his or her question, a person has to wait until an interlocutor appears online. Since this situation can hardly be changed, the most important and urgent questions should not be solved with the help of networking.

Examples of Professional Networking Sites

In this part of the paper, let us give several examples of how medical organizations and people who work for them can use networks.

Using Social Networks for Professional Purposes

To start with, it is not always necessary to create a networking site – many health care organizations successfully use the existing ones. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook go first on the list. Moreover, many organizations have both their networking site and groups or pages on social networking sites. As an example, Nurse Rounds on Facebook – a page is created “for nurses to chat, share stories” (About Nurse Rounds, 2015, para. 2). Additionally, the same page contains a link to the website called Nurse Rounds. It is described as the “social network and professional network for nurses” (RNrounds, 2015, para. 1). It would not be surprising if the same Nurse Rounds could be found on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks. Surely, using such kinds of services for professional purposes, nurses should pay particular attention to privacy and safety issues.

Different Types of Professional Networks Sites in Nursing Practice

The nursing professional networking sites vary widely. Those can join nurses from the same organization only, as the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing does (STTI Home Page, 2015). They can also be connected to a particular city, a state, or a country. A prime example here is the Massachusetts Nurses Association (Massachusetts Nurses Association, 2015). They may not be tied to any city, organization, or country at all. As an example, there is the NurseTogether website, which encourages everyone interested in membership to apply and get access to the network: “Access… is free for our members. Simply become a registered member of NurseTogether.com to take advantage of everything we have to offer” (About NurseTogether, n.d., para. 7).

Some professional networking sites even refer to different types of nursing practice, such as ambulatory care nursing, neonatal nursing, and others. For example, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses joins more than 500,000 nurses who care “for acutely and critically ill patients” (About AACN, n.d., para. 1).

To conclude, there are a lot of professional networking websites for nurses to use – one has only to look for those. They can be tied to different organizations, cities, states, or countries and can even be divided according to various types of nursing practice. If a nurse finds a good one and participates in its life actively and wisely, it can bring many advantages, such as the opportunities to educate, share experience and ideas, express yourself and even get a job. Professional networking sites will be the most valuable for the newcomers in nursing.

References

About AACN. (n.d.). Web.

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About Nurse Rounds. (2015). Web.

About NurseTogether. (n.d.). Web.

American Nurses Association. (2007). Nursing Informatics: Scope and Standards of Practice. Web.

ANA Career Center Staff. (2015). Professional Networking for Nurses. Web.

Canadian Nurses Association. (2001). What is Nursing Informatics and Why is it so Important? Nursing Now, 11, 1-4. Web.

Maryniak, K. (2013). Nursing Informatics. Web.

Massachusetts Nurses Association – Home. (2015). Web.

NCSBN. (2014). A Nurse’s Guide to Professional Boundaries. Web.

RNrounds. (2015). Web.

STTI Home Page. (2015). Web.

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