Are We Unfollowing Dental Professionalism on Social Media?
I had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Patricia Neville, panelist at the recent general session of the International Association of Dental Research, which was held in London England in summer 2018. The panel discussed evidence from the field on the impact that social media is having on professional activities and practice; and challenged preconceptions and provoked discussion around controversies extant in the dental professional regarding the use and abuse of social media.
Dr. Neville is a sociologist who cross-fertilises ideas from the social sciences with clinical dentistry to create a novel sociological understanding of the profession. One of her primary research areas is the relationship between social media, digital technology and dental professionalism.
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Chiraz Guessaier, CDA Oasis Manager
Social media has created a new communication channel changing human relationships. When human relationships change, relations between providers and patients change and with them traditional professional boundaries. The use of social media in dentistry introduces new questions about the scope of professional regulation and where the proper division between professional life and private life should be drawn. Currently, for some regulatory bodies, the response to social media use has been to regulate heavily, drawing little distinction between a dental professional’s private life and their professional practice or indeed professional principles and personal morality.
Justifications for such heavy regulation often centre on bringing the ‘profession into disrepute’ and worries about damage to the social acceptability of dentistry as a profession. This contributes to concerns relating to loss of trust and damaging the social contract. However, despite the inclusion of dental professionals’ private lives in professional regulation, there has been little analysis or agreement on the parameters of what amounts to reputationally damaging behavior in social media. If we are to regulate professional and private behavior on social media, relying on claims breach of trust and professional reputation, greater specificity and better justification is needed.
In this conversation, we reflect on the impact of social media on the dental profession.
Read/download the transcript of the conversation (PDF)
Oasis Moment (1.47″)
Full Conversation (12.04″)