Promoting the Development of Professional Presence for Students in Health Professions Programs, through the Use of Social Media

Brief Abstract

This presentation is designed to engage healthcare professionals as well as those who teach, develop, and provide leadership in healthcare-specific programs of study, in an open-forum discussion to seek feedback and gather innovative ideas for ways to deliver professional presence training material and content to students by way of social media platform applications.

Extended Abstract

Professionalism is an indispensable element in the compact between the medical profession and society that is based on trust and putting the needs of patients above all other considerations.[1]

The healthcare industry seeks to hire new graduates in a number of highly technical, team-based career fields.  As seasoned healthcare professionals and members of the academy, we recognize the need to educate those early careerists and future health care professionals on the importance of understanding and demonstrating professional presence[2] within their overall workplace behavior.  Conceptually, professional presence incorporates so-called “soft” skills typically associated with proficiency in verbal and written communications, but we also suggest that professional presence necessarily incorporates skills related to social and emotional intelligence, situational awareness, and self-awareness. Moreover, we believe the skillsets and behaviors associated with professional presence should be considered independent of other metrics used to more objectively evaluate and measure nursing professionalism such as cognition, attitude, and psychomotor abilities.[3]

With a focus on the health careers division of Southwest Tennessee Community College, we propose the creation of a professional presence module using the social media options that are currently available to students.

Project Outline: 

We propose the creation of a learning module that will be added to several courses in our health sciences department, the objective of which is to conceptually introduce healthcare students to professional presence, and to assist them in developing behavioral attributes which demonstrate their understanding of professionalism and professional presence.  This approach may also provide students with opportunities to more innovatively utilize social media platforms to promote and facilitate better healthcare outcomes in their patients. 

The design is an embedded online module that asks students to reflect on their professional growth, adopt new behaviors, engage with a wider community, distinguish themselves as innovators, and collaborate using existing technology to address a health related issue.  Engaging students in our nursing and allied health departments, the project creates dual opportunity for inter-professional collaboration and technology innovation.

Goals of this initiative are to help students

  • develop a professional identity
  • negotiate professional partnerships through collaboration
  • innovate the use of social media to promote positive healthcare outcomes within the community.

Level of Participation:

After presenting current research and the background of this problem (about 5 minutes), we would like to engage a group of thinkers and innovators (especially those who focus on health sciences and health careers) in open discussion of this project.  Because we seek ideas on how to create relevant, cross discipline problem-based learning activities that build community within community in an online environment, we will ask attendees to share relevant experiences.  We want to hear challenges, strategies, pitfalls and successes of our peers. 

Session Goals:

Attendees participating in this session will engage in brainstorming on how to develop and implement a professional presence module and will leave with one idea worth consideration. Additionally, participants will add to their professional networking community by sharing experiences in this area.


[1]Brennan, et al. (2014). Professionalism: Good for Patients and Health Care Organizations. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 89, Issue 5, 644 – 652.

[2] For the purposes of this proposal professional presence is defined as the combination of verbal, written, non-verbal, and self/situational awareness skillsets that, when developed to a high level, can positively impact the promotability, retainability, and career success of industry professionals.

2 Ghadirian, Salsali, & Ali Cheraghi (2014).  Nursing professionalism: An evolutionary concept analysis. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2014 Jan-Feb; 19(1): 1–10.