#RCNcongress reflections …


After my first day at RCN Congress this year my initial thoughts were “funny old day” It was pretty amazing to meet so many wonderful and passionate Tweeting nurses however it felt “weird” to not to have the #nursecommunity invited in via a Twitter wall in the main hall.  I also have some mixed feelings regarding Peter Carter, who seems a very pleasant person but is not interested in Twitter.  So please bear with me, this is not my usual blog style however I wanted to write an open letter which documents why I believe nursing leaders should Tweet:

Dear Peter Carter,

Thank you very much for popping by our #RCNcongress #RCNtweetup today I was very sorry that you had to dash off but great that you stayed for a picture:


I was disappointed to hear that Twitter doesn’t interest you however also understand that sometimes it is difficult to understand and see the value in new technologies, even the telephone at its conception was hailed as “not a serious means of communication”

I thought it might be a good idea to put together some points for you to think on at your leisure (as I appreciate how busy you must be) as to why social media is fast becoming a serious means of communication and why I believe all nursing leaders should be interested in it (in no particular order as each is of equal importance) :

  • Digital natives – the generation now qualifying as nurses, and indeed making their own decisions as patients, have never known a world without the World Wide Web and coming fast up behind them is a generation who will have never known a world without social media.  This is the way that people are communicating, email is becoming old fashioned and the telephones primary function is no longer to make a phone call.
  • Being a nursing leader – as nurse leaders we need to communicate with people how they want to communicate, there is almost 20,000 nurses that I know of who want to communicate via Twitter …. And are!
  • The voice of nursing – the RCN proudly have a strapline that they are the voice of nursing so what better place to listen to that voice than on Twitter, where not only can you listen on a micro level to each individual but through the use of data and social media listening tools can also be done on a much wider level.
  • The nurse’s voice – this is the age where the individual matters and that means each and every individual. Nurses are finding their own voice via Twitter, Twitter discussions and sharing blogs and videos via Twitter, each nurse has their own voice should they so wish.
  • People not organisations – Twitter is about people, it’s not about organisations, it’s about people engaging with people.  Corporate accounts are ok but people are pretty fantastic.
  • Transparency and openness – in this new age of healthcare transparency and openness are king and rightly so! The transparency and openness that Twitter affords is unprecedented. This should be celebrated and embraced.
  • Being a visible role model – as a nursing leader it is important to be a role model, to engage and be engaging.  Every nurse is important, every nurse adds value and it is the responsibility of nursing leaders to not only acknowledge this but also to role model this. If we don’t make time to listen to people, in any space, what message does that send out ? 
  • Connecting beyond geographical locations and hierarchical boundaries – in a forum that is so open the possibilities are really endless.  The traditional hierarchies that stifled healthcare are ignored in our Twitter spaces to the benefit of healthcare, student nurses can talk to chief nursing officers and more importantly chief nursing officers can talk to student nurses.  And there are no limits to this, ideas, experiences, expertise, resources, evidence and opinions can be and are shared on a global scale.

Twitter is full of passionate, proud, caring nurses who are leading the way through the use of a technology that enables us to communicate in a way that we have never before.  I am proud to be a Tweeting nurse and sad that a nursing leader is not interested in the value.  However I also know that actually at the end of the day if you are not passionate about communicating with nurses in this way then being in this space is not for you.  I am not saying Twitter will change the world but I know that if one conversation with one nurse makes just one difference to one patient then it’s worthwhile.  The conversations, the sharing, the support, the exchange of ideas, experiences, practice based evidence, and opinion’s via Twitter will go on with or without you … if you want to listen you know where we are and you are always most welcome

Kindest Regards

Teresa Chinn

RN and Proud Tweeting Nurse


Thanks for bearing with me everyone and please feel free to add your thoughts below

22 thoughts on “#RCNcongress reflections …

  1. What a cock womble, I wouldn’t worry. By the looks of it he will be retired soon…

  2. After this if he does not embrace Twitter he will not be engaged with a vocal growing network. He will be the loser. Hope he takes the hint. Hope someone shows him the post. Let’s drag him into the 21st Century.

  3. Show ‘em the wonderful educational content that comes out of conferences such as #smaccGOLD (the vids available for download from smacc video channel)


    Show them the wonderful real time interactions between clinicians (or whatever ilk) under the #FOAMed banner

    More importantly – “cock womble” – what a description. I presume this means he’s like a ‘king womble’ akin to Uncle Bulgaria?

  4. my understanding of Peters’ comment was that he didn’t tweet as it was too time consuming but that he do follow what we are saying on twitter

  5. Hi Teresa. Had a chat with Peter who is disappointed with your interpretation of the conversation. One of his top priorities is nursing and patient feedback so we keep him up to date with activity on Twitter daily, as well as all of other social media channels, and he regularly discusses issues one to one with people who contact us. As he mentioned yesterday there would not be time for him to respond to everyone who contacted him on Twitter, but the team at the RCN monitors all communications and does its best to support the nursing and patient community through this channel. Do get in touch to talk through further, you’ve got my email. Katie

  6. Well, now I’m disappointed too!
    I didn’t intend to visit #rcncongress but as the #rcntweetup fell on my off duty I couldn’t miss killing two birds with one stone as a local nurse.
    I’m disappointed in @AgencyNurse (Teresa) as a member of the tweet meet she really didn’t, in my opinion, challenge Dr Carter anyway near enough after he said “I’m not interested in twitter” (not much interpretation required there), obviously Dr Carter is not used to being challenged and is well briefed in tackling such circumstances and back tracked nicely, as detailed by the response above.
    My interpretation was that this was a photo opportunity and plication of a bunch of nurses on twitter.
    I’m in complete awe of the work Teresa has done to mobilise the voice of nurses, or give us our voice back, via twitter, to my knowledge this work is done with no political or financial agenda and myself included in a cohort of nearly 20,000 nurses value this space that she has, through need and a lack of support, created for us and now with us.
    My disappointment continues as the response here from “The RCN” is via the comms team, who one assumes have in fact not had time to interact with Dr Carter at congress as he is so busy, unless of course this blog is that important to him to demand his time (which he doesn’t have to tweet).
    I’m also disappointed in myself that I’ve not had the courage to name myself here, but I am pleased that I do have the courage to see, from my first and last visit to #RCNcongress that it is in fact disconnected with me as a political giant, so I will be disconnecting from it.
    Thank you RCN comms for not valuing the time Teresa has taken to courageously detail all the reasons why Dr Carter can and should tweet, alongside numerous other engaged similar sized organisation’s Chief Execs, as this has shown the true side of RCN, who and what drives it and given me clarity on how and why I’ve been driven away.

    A proud tweeting nurse

  7. This is an interesting blog and fascinating conversation. I have been unable to attend RCN congress this year, and admittedly only attended a few in my RCN time, though always when fulfilling a representative role. I have met Dr Peter Carter a couple of times, albeit briefly and also, I know Teresa Chinn, whom I hold in the highest regard. I will try for a dispassionate response however. My sense of all of this is that there remains a tension for organisations and their CEO’s or equivalent such as a General Secretary, between traditional routes of communication and social media. My observations of CEO’s I follow on Twitter is that they use it to reflect their personal work (through blogs for example) in a way those who work for them (incidentally making their organisations look attractive places to work) and others who are simply curious can understand. It is not usually an official channel – there is a marketing/Communication person who does the official, organisational tweeting. For me an insight into the RCN general Secretary’s work would be welcome both as a member and aspiring leader. Perhaps the RCN Communications team should encourage Peter to write a blog, regularly even if only monthly that can be published, and advertised on Twitter?
    Perhaps too, the notions that Twitter is time consuming and that every tweet needs a response too should be addressed? Is that why Peter stopped tweeting; I’m sure he used to? Having faith in Twitter followers is the same as having faith in other groups who communicate with you; allow us a little more contact and we may not be quite so cynical about grabbed photo opportunities. The next generation of nurses are in training and using Twitter to connect and develop; so are service users and the RCN risks being seen as unconnected to both if it only has an organisational face. Use some courage and a small commitment of time; showing competence in communication with care and compassion could make a real difference.

  8. I’m very disappointed that people have decided to use abusive language towàrds Dr Carter, and if that is how people wish to conduct themselves toward him online it is no surprise he does not currently use Twitter.
    This being my first Congress, I was honoured to meet and talk with our Chief Executive on several occasions over the past couple of days and I can tell you this for a fact – he is concerned and engaged in tackling the issues we face as nurses and representing members in the media. If he were to spend all day monitoring Twitter and reading the unacceptable language directed at him, he wouldn’t have time to do his job.
    I would invite readers and responders to be respectful and professional throughout this discourse.

  9. At the end of the day social media is a part of life. But we also have to be careful how we use such things.

  10. Peter Kay – Many thanks for taking the time to express your opinion, however I am afraid i can’t condone your colourful language and as i stated in my blog Peter Carter was indeed very polite and pleasant. However thank you for your support and for finding the time to respond – Teresa

  11. Helen – Thank you for your comment, I am pretty sure that If Peter Carter did start to tweet not only would he gain but also the #nursecommunity would gain from such an experienced nurse and indeed his presence would be most welcome – Teresa

  12. Thank you for sharing the link Tim this is indeed some of the great work going on on a global scale on Twitter and the power does indeed speak volumes to those that will listen – Teresa

  13. Hi Laura,

    Indeed you are correct Peter Carter did then go on to say that he did not have time to Tweet, however I felt that I really did not want to dwell on the specifics of the conversation in this blog but actually to productively state why I feel nursing leaders should be in this space. Nwevertheless as you have raised it I do think that this is also a very important point, as as nurses we all know what it is like to not have time and I can see where Peter Carter is coming from with this. However as I am sure many people will agree that it is time well spent as it can be used to inform and disseminate important work and used wisely can actually start to save time. I am also very much in mind of the rather interesting book written by Qualman on social media which states that we no longer have a choice on whether we do social media the question is how well we do it… there are many nursing leaders who are doing social media well and using it to inform and share their work and they see the value and make time for it. Time is a really important and interesting point Laura so thank you so much for raising it – Teresa

  14. Hello Katie,

    Many thanks for taking the time to respond and you are right to highlight the fantastic work not only done through @theRCN but also through other RCN leaders who are tweeting in this space both gaining and giving value to the wonderful #nursecommunity, including yourself as you were very much instrumental in arranging the congress tweet up – so thank you for all your hard work to recognise and support this fabulous community. I am pleased that you keep Peter Carter up to date with social media feedback daily I hope that Peter will take the advice offered in my letter in the spirit in which it was intended – to explain the benefits of tweeting as a nursing leader. As outlined to Laura below the time issue is one that as nurses we are all familiar with but those of us who see the value of engagement realise that it is indeed time well spent as so much good can come of communicating in an open space. I also realise that sometime you can take a horse to water and however much I disagree with Peters decision not to engage in this way I respect his choice and ever remain hopeful that he will one day be interested. Thank you again for all your hard work and dedication in pushing engagement with nurses forward in social media your work is very much a shining light in the #nursecommunity – Teresa

  15. Dear RCN TweetUp Nurse,

    Thank you for having the courage to write this response and for your very kind words. I am sorry that you felt that I didn’t challenge Peter Carter enough however I am not sure that challenging would have helped. Its important that we understand Peter Carters perspective and that we explain ours in a reasoned way hence why I have set out why I believe nursing leaders should tweet. You make some very valid points but please let me assure you that Peter Carters response however saddened we were by it, was that of one person and in fact the RCN are doing some really good work within social media and are engaging with nurses. We perhaps have to take this from a glass half full perspective and look at some of the great nurse leaders who are engaging in Twitter and remember the contribution that we can make to their work and they can make to ours, all with ultimate goal in mind … to improve patient care. Please do not think that by posting anonymous that you have no courage – when i first started to tweet and blog I was anonymous so i know that even an anonymous comment takes great courage. Your kind words really helped me to collect my thoughts around congress so thank you – Teresa

  16. Dear Philip,

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a balanced and considered response to my blog and I very much agree with you that an insight into Peter Carters work would be most welcome. I also agree that having a little faith also goes a long way – the good that social media does far outweighs the bad. Again you are right re the organisational face of the RCN, although the corporate account is excellent people really do respond to people, we live in an age now where the individual matters and we want to connect with individuals. Thank you Philip for your very wise words


  17. Hi Ed,

    I very much agree with your comments re abusive language and do not condone it. I am really pleased to hear that you had a wonderful first time at congress and that you got to meet Peter Carter who I agree seems a pleasant chap indeed. I am afraid I don’t agree with you regarding your comment about twitter taking time away from his work, all social media is a modern and useful nursing tool that used wisely and productively can inform or practice and work and be used to disseminate and share valuable information. Communication is one of the 6Cs for a reason and digital communication is becoming increasingly important for all nurses including nursing leaders. Thank you very much for taking the time to respond and I can only echo your very important invitation to readers and responders that not only professionalism but also kindness and compassion is as important online as offline. Thank you Ed – Teresa

  18. Hi Teresa
    Congratulations on your blog/open letter to Peter Carter. I think you have raised some important points about social media and its role for and value to nurses leaders across health and social care. As you know, FoNS is in relative terms new to twitter under the name @FoNSCharity. However, we have found tweeting to be a great way of interacting with nurses in real-time and a tremendous medium for timely information sharing. Indeed, our rapid increase in followers has been a testament to this and we are certainly reaching many more nurses in practice who in turn are benefiting from the outcomes of our work and support we offer.
    With warmest wishes, Theresa

  19. Hello Theresa,

    Thank you very much for your comment and FoNs is certainly an outstanding organisation in its approach to twitter using it in a very engaging way as indeed are you with your own twitter account. It is important for nursing leaders to be in this space and I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge well done for being one of those leaders who are well and truly leading the way!

    Best Wishes


  20. I can nurses communicate in real time if they should be busy doing their 6Cs with their patients.
    Twitter has a place but it can be like standing in a crowded pub with everyone shouting at once and the one person with something interesting or useful to say can not be heard. You can waste a lot of time wading through the self promoters, moaners and agenda pushers to find anything of interest.
    I prefer blogs to read when off duty as well as communicating the “old fashioned” way face to face

  21. Dear Teresa,

    I would like to take this opportunity publicly to thank you for the courage to create and bring to fruition the @wenurses community. I have connected with you right from the beginning with the early nursing chats on twitter and have also had the privilege to meet you in person, so feel well placed to comment on the benefits of social media. For me social media has been invaluable in connecting with health care professionals, carers, friends, in fact it has widened my support network and increased my confidence in what I do professionally. My father had Alzheimer’s and in the last year of his life I was able to access help, advice and support 24/7 via social media. Many healthcare professionals and carers were able to sign post me to the information I needed and also gave me the courage to challenge his care whether in an acute hospital setting or the community. In fact twitter was my support out of hours on the night my dad died when I was panicking not knowing what to do and needing reassurance. Help was instantaneous compared to a 2hr wait for an out of hours doctor. Twitter has introduced me to blogging and given me the opportunity to meet key people within dementia policy as I campaign to improve dementia care. Tweets take a matter of second, no longer than sending a text. Twitter never sleeps someone is always on hand 24 hours a day for reassurance and advice. In fact whilst I have been poorly twitter has been invaluable with keeping me connected to the outside world at a challenging and lonely time.
    I have been fortunate to nurse for 30 years, have worked in managerial positions and at the frontline. In fact I am back now working directly with patients using the transferable skills I have learnt along the way.

    Twitter makes us all equal, there is no hierarchy and I have access to people I would never normally come into contact. I have no PA’s to battle, or full diaries to compete, just straight forward, quick communication with others directly.

    I was always taught to concentrate my effort on the already converted when bringing about change and that with the groundswell a tipping point would be achieved. For the nursing community on twitter I would say do the same for what has started as a small ripple is now in fact a large wave and at some point others will have to join us or they will be left behind. Time does not stand still and neither does nursing. Come and jump on our surfboard and let’s ride this wave!

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