Perceptions of student pharmacists on professionalism and social networking sites: A Rasch analysis

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Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning


Background: The use of social media by students in professional health programs has led to concerns about social networking site (SNS) content, and colleges and universities are deciding whether they should provide guidance for students regarding professional online content. Objective: The primary objective was to evaluate the validity of an instrument used to assess student pharmacists' comfort level and concerns regarding SNS. A secondary objective was to describe students' perceptions of and concerns about specific SNS behaviors at one college of pharmacy. Methods: In 2009, a 24-item questionnaire was distributed to students enrolled at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. The first section of the questionnaire (nine questions) asked students to indicate their level of agreement with specific SNS behaviors. The second section (eight questions) requested students to state their level of concern with specific unprofessional SNS behaviors. Rasch analysis was performed to assess reliability and validity. Results: A total of 292 students submitted completed questionnaires (74% response rate). Facebook was the primary SNS used. Respondents indicated that they would not send a friend request to or accept a friend request from a faculty member. Students were most concerned about online posting of profanity and least concerned with online posting of unprofessional content affiliated with the pharmacy profession. Conclusions: Student pharmacists were uncomfortable networking with faculty or future employers, and their lack of concern with the potential unprofessional online posts could raise some legal and ethical issues for colleges of pharmacy, especially those without a social media policy.

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