1. Satusky, Mary Jo BSN, RN, ONC, CCRC
  2. NAON President 2011-2012

Article Content

How do you stay connected and informed, both with issues related to your profession and personally? Well, because you are reading this, chances are that Orthopaedic Nursing is one of the ways you keep in touch! But, are you reading this in hardcopy or through an electronic medium?

Mary Jo Satusky, BSN... - Click to enlarge in new window, BSN, RN, ONC, CCRC, NAON President 2011-2012

Technology is a wonderful invention that allows us to stay in touch with people across the globe, exchanging ideas and looking for solutions to problems we encounter caring for our patients every day. "Google" has become a verb in colloquial language as we discuss investigating diagnoses or side effects to medications. Remember using a Physician's Desk Reference to look up medications? With the advent of smart phones and programs such as Micromedex, the Physician's Desk Reference is now collecting dust on a shelf somewhere, if you can even find it! Online usage of journal search engines allows access to information we never experienced before.


So, when getting information, do you prefer "push" or "pull?" Are you saying, "Huh?" Let me explain. There are two basic ways to receive information updates: you can have the information "pushed" out to you via e-mail alerts, or you can "pull" the information by visiting websites or using search engines to find the latest on any given topic. There are, of course, advantages to both, and you might find that a combination is the best answer for you.


To have information pushed out to you, sign up for e-mail alerts and newsletters that will send notices to your e-mail box when news comes out about your desired topics. The alerts come with links to articles about a certain topic. When looking at websites, look for the RSS logo. This stands for Really Simple Syndication, or Rich Site Summary, depending on which resource you check. It is a format for syndicating news and the content of news-like sites. You need to set up a reader and then subscribe for the blogs and news to come to you, keeping you informed. If I've lost you, I am willing to bet that just about any person between the ages of 11 and 21 years can fill you in! A word of caution: I understand this can be addicting as you want to follow those links that arrive in your e-mail in-box to check out the latest news!


Then there are the folks who like to "surf" the web, preferring to "pull" information by visiting websites and using search engines to get the latest information on favorite topics. The good news with this format is that you can bookmark your favorite websites, like the NAON website at, to visit over and over. And you can guide your patients to suggested websites to be sure they get accurate information.


Using social media is another great way to stay in touch with others in our profession, whether across the street or across the ocean. Social media includes blogs, chats, and social networking sites, such as Facebook or Linked In. Navigating social media can have its pitfalls, however. During a recent webinar through the American Nurses Association, Cynthia Saver, RN, MS, president of CLS Development, Inc., discussed some issues with the use of social media.


Social media has tremendous potential. We can set up professional networks that reach around the world. Patients and families can keep concerned loved ones up-to-date on how they're doing on sites such as "Caring Bridge," eliminating all those telephone calls at the end of a long day. Tweets can be sent out during surgery to keep faraway family members informed. Students and faculty can connect.


But, like anything else, there are potential problems with social media as well. Violations of the HIPAA regulations are probably the first that come to my mind. Inappropriate pictures, including x-rays, or postings can lead persons to deduce who the patient might be, violating privacy. Even the use of a pseudonym is not enough. Bloggers should speak in general terms, omitting specific time frames and locations. Hypothetical case study discussions may be better than specific patient discussion, even with the patient's consent. Have a backup plan if tweeting during surgery in case of unexpected problems.


The use of social media during work hours for nonwork issues can cause problems with employers. Most employers will have a social media policy. Outlawing social media totally at work may not always be effective, but limiting personal use during work hours can help people understand necessary boundaries. And, remember, most employers can access your communications sent from a work computer.


If you have a social media site, such as a Facebook page, you should remember that even though privacy settings limit access, there really is nothing that will ensure complete privacy. You should check your privacy settings periodically and be very cautious about sharing personal information and giving health advice. This is definitely not the arena to use to let off steam after a particularly challenging day at work! What if a patient or patient's family member wants to "friend" you? This can be tricky, especially if you work in the pediatric arena. Be cautious when the line between personal and professional relationships starts to blur.


I think we would all agree that technology has made our lives easier and richer. But I still find myself often picking up the phone to connect with colleagues, and I would encourage any of you to contact me . . . via e-mail (using technology!) or by telephone (tried and true!) to share your stories of staying connected.