Using Social Media Professionally

CPTBC registrants understand that the College regulations and practice standards require them to act professionally whenever they interact with clients or when wearing their physical therapy hat in other situations.

Many physical therapists access social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram in their personal lives, and some manage corporate profiles on those platforms as well. Professional boundaries can easily be crossed when using social media. The same principles of professionalism apply online as offline, and professional boundaries must be respected at all times.

We published our Social Media Guide (PDF) to help our registrants understand how to use social media responsibly and in adherence with College regulations.

The College held a webinar last May (the recording can be found on our Webinars page – scroll down to May 24, 2018) where we discussed a few different social media-related scenarios and mentioned the benefits and pitfalls of social media use.

Acting in a professional manner on social media is really no different than how you act professionally in person. Some tips for managing social media:

  • Consider whether a post or a comment you publish electronically would be acceptable if stated in person, or by phone or letter.
  • Avoid posting anything that you would hesitate to note in a client’s chart, or that you could not easily explain to a client, their family members, your colleagues, the news media or the College, should you ever be challenged.
  • Remember it’s the physical therapist’s responsibility to maintain appropriate boundaries, not the client’s.
  • Be aware of the risk of breaching client privacy – even your best efforts at maintaining a client’s anonymity can be unsuccessful and result in an unintentional breach.
  • Deleting a post or comment doesn’t mean it hasn’t been shared. You should always assume that once something is posted, it’s public information, no matter how securely you’ve set your privacy settings.

References

College of Physical Therapists of British Columbia (2018). Pause Before You Post: A Social Media Guide for Physical Therapists. Retrieved from http://cptbc.org/pausebeforeyoupost/

Medical Quality Assurance Commission (2014). Professionalism and Electronic Media Guideline. Retrieved from https://wmc.wa.gov/sites/default/files/public/documents/MD2014-02ProfessionalismAndElectronicMediaGuideline.pdf

Physiotherapy Alberta (2017). Social Media Resource Guide for Alberta Physiotherapists. Retrieved from https://www.physiotherapyalberta.ca/files/practice_guideline_social_media.pdf

Questions?

For more information or to discuss a specific practice situation, contact the College at practicequestions@cptbc.org.