Nurse bloggers… hadn’t thought of myself like that – but I guess I am!
I had an email from a journalist – Dallas who asked: “I’m writing a feature on nurse bloggers. I was wondering if you would be able to answer the following questions for me:” I thought the best way for a nurse blogger to respond – was…to…blog! So here I go… (challenging the frontiers of journalism and nursing… at the same time I guess!)
• What led you to start up a blog?
I started my blog https://rhondawilsonmhn.com/ Rhonda Wilson MHN: Rural mental health nurse, just before the last federal election. I had previously established a professional digital profile across a number of other social media platforms (eg Twitter, facebook https://www.facebook.com/ruralMHnurse, LinkedIn, ResearchGate) and I had watched a number of other nurse bloggers from around the world for sometime too. What I noticed was that a blog provided an opportunity to contribute to a nursing conversation, and to participate in and initiate conversations about nursing/health broadly, but rural mental health nursing specifically. At that time I was particularly focussed on contributing to a rural perspective on the delivery of mental health care to rural people, and I wanted to ensure that I had done what I could to advocate for a fair representation for rural people to have good quality mental health care when it was needed; especially, for young rural people. I think it is an important professional responsibility for nurses to advocate for the health of people in their community – for me that is advocating for rural mental health care. The blog gave me a new way to advocate. Since then it has developed further to bring together conversations about rural mental health on a wider range of topics.
• What do you post on your blog and why do you choose to discuss these types of things?
I try to blog about real life situations because that brings an authenticity to a conversation. I use to think that rural nursing was not very important –and nurses in big metro hospitals must be better than rural nurses… because everything we do seems to be on a small scale in the bush, and we don’t have as many resources to draw from. That belief affected my confidence to some extent, and it has taken a lot of study and practice to come to the realisation that rural nurses are very often the backbone of health care delivery in rural communities – that nurses are a critical social and health capital in rural communities. We are often not seen in upfront roles, and we are sometimes not valued for the important contributions that we make… but rural nurses are the glue that holds health together in rural communities. We are very often specialist generalists. We can cover all bases and do it well… I have only ever worked in rural and regional communities and if you need advanced life support – I can do that, if you need a scrub nurse for an emergency caesarean – I can do that. If you need triage in emergency – I can do that. If you need a paediatric nurse – I can do that. If you need a palliative care nurse – I can do that. If you need someone to home visit and do a dressing on a leg ulcer – I can do that. If you need a drug and alcohol health promotion at the local high school – I can do that. And, if you have a young person with a escalating psychosis – I can sort that too! Rural nurses have skills sets that are eclectic and valuable – different to urban nurses – but critically important in their rural communities. I thought it was about time that rural nurses started to speak up – a blog helps me to do that and to tell the stories of rural mental health nursing in a down to earth way.
• Does it bring about any benefits for you personally or professionally?
I think broadening your network and respectfully listening/ reading and talking/ contributing to conversation about rural mental health brings both professional and personal benefit – but not in any tangible sense. Blogging helps me to reflect on my practice as a rural nurse and when other engage with my blogs (and other social media), then that has certainly been useful. The feedback from others has helped me to continue to develop as a professional nurse, and it is that conversation and dialogue with other nurses and health workers that is particularly valuable. Twitter (micro blogging) has brought some professional interactions and introductions that have been especially useful – networking at conferences, or with colleagues internationally has been great. I have one research project team that developed purely through Twitter interactions… the possibilities are endless. I have published a bit about nurses and social media too – I think it is an area of health progress and I wanted to bring some evidence to support new practices – so I have began to work in e-mental health areas – a new health frontier. I don’t know what opportunities might arise in the future – but I am a keen e-pioneer I guess!
• Would you suggest other nurses create their own blog? What opportunities can doing so open up?
Yes – I think nursing has incredible potential to influence health and well being of people everywhere using social media and blogs. My advice – start out my lurking (respectfully) for a while – checking out what other nurses are doing in the field. Then, figure out where your own niche is… what do you have to contribute to the disciple? Set up a professional digital footprint… If you want to know how – check this out https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257458308_Nurses_and_Twitter._The_good_the_bad_and_the_reluctant
This paper is a guide to help people figure out how to use social media in health disciplines and it makes some suggestions about how and why it is useful. A stong – ‘get on board’ message to nurses everywhere.
• Is this something that you see becoming more common among nurses?
I hope it becomes more common! I think that nurses contribution to e-health generally has a great deal of scope to do a great deal of good, in every corner of the world. Nurses should be prominent in the cyber community – because that is where people are increasingly hanging out – we nurses should go to the people with messages of health and well-being – it is the very heart of what we do! Never too old – if you don’t have a profile somewhere get one!
Please feel free to add any extra comment
Nurses who have been in the discipline for many years are sometimes reluctant to engage with social media. They are sometimes daunted by the unstoppable force of the internet. There has been a lot of bad press about the bad things that happen in cyberspace – (eg bullying, trolls etc). But, setting up a professional digital profile is much safer. What it takes is using common sense – behave in the cyber world professionally, and you will attract professional networks and conversations. Don’t engage with people who behave badly and with trolls and they won’t bother you. Other professionals will engage with you based on how relevant your posts are to them – play nice! If you don’t – no one will play with you. Be mindful of your code of conduct and stay within the flags!
I hope those responses to Dallas’ questions are of interest to others too! Good questions – thanks for asking! Cheers!