How Virtual Communities of Practice via Social Media might enhance Nurse Education


  • Michael Brian Haslam Edge Hill University



Social Media; Nurse Education; Community of Practice; Twitter; Nursing Students


Nurse education in the United Kingdom is undergoing its biggest transformation in decades.  Changes to educational standards mean that future nurses, will require a wider range of skills; proficiency in those skills; and a breadth of knowledge to support practice. Meanwhile, widening participation initiatives have increased the numbers of Nursing Students from a wider range of backgrounds with more diverse academic abilities. Potential challenges for Higher Education Institutions, may therefore arise from increased numbers entering programmes and the tensions between Learners’ prior educational experience and the demands and expectations of new curricula.

Whilst Social Media is already widely used by Academics for the purposes of research, debate and self-promotion, its use as an education tool varies from institution to institution. Social Media platforms such as Twitter, promote active connections with peers, and have the potential to encourage a shared discourse with expert Clinicians and Academics alike. If harnessed correctly, Social Media may be used to develop Virtual Learning Communities which may address these emerging challenges in Nurse Education, supporting a wide-scale exchange of knowledge, reflection and the development of academic skills such as writing and critical thinking.

This paper considers the benefits of Social Media, specifically Twitter, and how it can be used to support the education of Nursing Students. A recent student-led conference is used to illustrate how Twitter has the potential to increase student’s social capital whilst contributing to the development of professional identity. This paper argues that both Students and Academics alike, may benefit from the innovative use of Social Media and that further research is needed to establish how it can be incorporated into new pre-registration Nursing programmes.