As a veterinary student, I am aware of the importance of knowing where your school stands on students using social media. Being aware of your vet school’s social media policies & philosophies will guide you as you share your amazing photos and stories.
What’s the truth about all of these veterinary school social media policies & philosophies? They really differ from school to school, but it’s undeniably important to know what they are.
In addition to knowing your school’s policies, knowing which social media sites your college uses can provide a lot of insight on their social media philosophy. More profiles likely means they’re more open to social media usage!
I talked to a few communications officers at different veterinary schools in order to give a more diverse look at various philosophies about vet students on social media.
Ontario Veterinary College
Contact: Jane Dawkins
I thought I’d start with my school since it’s what I know best.
- Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) is currently on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Vine and Snapchat.
- Right now there is no formal written policy about how to do social media (aside from confidentiality).
- The Externship Project is an OVC student-run blog.
Like any vet school, there is a variety of exciting things happening daily, and by having students involved and sharing experiences, we can all contribute to really show what Ontario Veterinary College is all about.
One unique opportunity for Ontario Veterinary College students is the “Externship Project,” which is a blog on which several vet students share their stories about what they are learning on their summer externship. It is great to read about students getting the chance to apply the things they’ve learned in class, and in turn, the students learn how to blog and share these stories.
I’ve learned one helpful “ground rule” I’ve for blogging about specific patient cases from Ontario Veterinary College’s Jane Dawkins. What is it? Even if you are behind the scenes and never get a chance to meet the pet’s owner and get consent, we are permitted to write about the case, provided we don’t give any identifiers or personal information relating to the patient or client. This means no last name, no animal names, etc.
By doing this you are still able to tell your story while protecting client/patient confidentiality at the same time. Jane seeks to be an involved and visible figure in the OVC community, and if students have any questions about something they are creating, she is always available to discuss it.
Respect and common sense are good rules to go by, but if you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to ask.
UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Contact: Trina Wood
- UC Davis is currently on Twitter and Facebook.
- There is no legally binding document or formal social media policy (other than confidentiality).
- In VET 400 (the first block that vet students take at school in their first year), there is a discussion about professionalism and how it also applies to social media.
- Student clubs, like Orphan Kitten Project at UC Davis (so adorable), that run their own social media pages.
- UC Davis has a blog, “DVM Tales,” that you can check out here.
The DVM Tales blog is a huge opportunity for veterinary students to get involved in social media. It is a professional blog associated with the school, and therefore serves as a great example for students to see how to run a blog in a professional way in order to tell their stories.
So far there are 4 articles published on the blog, all outlining unique and interesting experiences in the field of veterinary medicine. There aren’t any posts that have been case-based (yet!)
Trina encourages any UC Davis veterinary student that wants to share an interesting case to contribute. (If you’re reading this & feeling interested… Trina & the UC Davis communications team would be more than willing to work with veterinary students to ensure confidentiality is respected and that the story is shared appropriately).
Royal Veterinary College (RVC), University of London
Contact: Richard Evans
- RVC is currently on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube
- RVC does have policies for social media, and they are closely intertwined with policies on professional conduct.
Wondering what social media policies look like at veterinary schools that have them? Check out RVC’s linked resources below:
Statement of use of Social Media: This is for staff and students, and I like that it addresses the quick rate of change in the online world and includes suggestions to learn from each other and ask questions when you need too.
Referenced in that statement is the Code of Professional Standards which can be found here. This Code outlines the behaviors and qualities that the college expects its students to uphold when representing the RVC and the profession. You can very easily apply this Code to social media use.
A lengthy social media policy is available through Human Resources, which applies to staff of the college. For interested students, it does have good sections (sections 4 and 6.1) on what specifically constitutes an inappropriate or unprofessional action on social media.
Are you familiar with your veterinary hospital’s social media policies? If you know them, feel free to share them in the comments below. If not, it might be time to investigate!
Important side note: All of the institutions included in this post have teaching veterinary hospitals, and therefore take on active clients. In the health care industry, client/patient/doctor confidentiality is important to maintain, so all vet schools have policies to protect this. This includes things like not sharing personal information of the client (names, addresses, etc.), making sure you have either verbal or written consent before sharing pictures of a patient or teaching animal, and keeping medical records private. This is a rule common to all the vet schools I talked to, and it continues as a rule when you graduate and start practicing, so it’s good to be aware! Obviously getting consent and talking to the owner can open a lot of doors – many people love to have their pets and stories shared online – but don’t assume this is the case with every client or every hospital.
A special thanks to Ontario Veterinary College’s Instagram (@OntVetCollege) for the student photos used within this series.