1. McCartney, Patricia R. PhD, RN, FAAN

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Are you curious about social networking such as Facebook or MySpace? An online social network is a Web site on which users create a description about themselves (identity or profile) and connect with others on the network. The software enables users to select who on the network they want to interact with and thereby create a personal community. Users participate in these online communities through a wide range of interactive tools, including e-mail, discussions, blogging, journals, instant messaging and posting of events, photographs, and videos. Now professional networking sites also exist, which make it possible for you to connect with colleagues with similar interests and experience. The American Nurses Association (ANA) recently created an online social network called The ANANurseSpace community is just for nurses but is only available to ANA members. It can be accessed through a link on the ANA home page ( Let me tell you what I found when I joined this network.


Getting Started

Directions are found on a link for "first-time users" along with help and support icons throughout the site. Each member creates a profile that includes his or her name, photograph, contact information, experience, and education. Most information is optional, and users can choose what information they will allow to be shared. Members select communities of practice for their profile (I selected women's health and informatics; pediatrics is an available choice). Not all profile information is career related; there are also options for a photo album, favorite music, favorite quote, and more.


The "Community" page is the main page to access all the interactive functions of social networking: e-mail, discussions, blogs, events, and instant messenger. Members can bookmark almost any part of the network content, such as an event or discussion. Members can join groups (I joined two nursing informatics groups; others of possible interest to MCN readers include pediatric nursing and perioperative nursing) and follow group discussions and access names and contact information of others in the group. Because this network is new, there are only a few groups, but users can start a group on any topic of interest and can filter out networks they are not interested in reading about. Users can search the membership to find friends who are on the network and send that contact an invitation to "connect" or be part of their network.


Ethics and Privacy

Privacy is a concern on social networking sites. Although users assume that only persons in their "trusted community" can access what they post, personal information or dialogue may become accessible outside their network. Network sponsors monitor and enforce legal and ethical policies, but users do need to be cautious, because once information is posted on the Internet, personal control of that information is relinquished. Another issue is ethical behavior, because professionals need to be ethical in all online behavior. ANANurseSpace has a policy about responsibility for content the user posts, how posted information is used or disclosed, intellectual property rights, privacy rights of other network users, user disputes, advertisement, and harvesting e-mail addresses for spam lists.


Social networking is pervasive among the net generation and is here to stay. How can we learn to use social networking in maternal-child nursing practice? Will new nurses expect professional social networks? How can we teach online ethical behavior to new nurses? If you are an ANA member, consider joining the ANAMySpace to learn about networks, share with colleagues, and maybe create a group for your practice interest. Keep your eyes on the horizon for more nursing networks!!