Myth busters in dental assisting: I can do what I want on social media

What dental assistants do on social media should have no effect on their job, right? Find out in this new myth buster.

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My social media accounts are private, and I can post what I want, when I want! Right?
WRONG!

Technically, you’re correct. However, there are a few rules you need to observe in any job environment, especially when it comes to your position as a professional dental assistant.

Keep in mind that most practices review the social media accounts of any prospective new hires. With that in mind, what does your social media look like? Can an employer access them? They cannot? OK, but keep in mind that this is a small world, and we have friends of friends who may very well be friends with you and who can see your posts.

Are there drunk pictures from last weekend, or a post bashing your former or even current employer? These would serve as fair warning to a potential employer to not give you a second look during the hiring process.

Remember that patients may become friends with you on social media, or a current friend on social media may become a patient. Does what you post on your accounts give them confidence in you or your practice? Are you a negative Nelly all the time, or are you a positive person?

More social media problems

Another problem with social media is that people are often on their phones checking social media when they should be working. Unless you’re clocking out while you scroll, then you’re not giving your job your full attention. Remember, respect is a two-way street. You’ve got to give it to get it!

Some people have been fired from their jobs after they posted something on social media. Laws concerning this vary greatly, depending on the state and the social media post. It’s important to avoid saying something that could offend someone. Also, never disrespect your employer or a patient online. It’s negative and serves no good purpose!

From office to social media

Two subjects to stay away from in the dental office are politics and religion. This has always been a rule when working in a professional office. These subjects can certainly stir up huge debates, and usually no one’s minds are changed. Now, I often use social media to profess my love for my Savior, and that’s OK. But what we need to avoid is bashing other people’s beliefs. I may not agree with others, but hey, it’s their life. I let them live it, and I live mine. I look at it like this—I don’t like coffee, so I don’t drink it. I don’t mind if you drink it, just don’t try to get me to drink it. We can disagree and still be friends.

HIPAA considerations

Here’s another question for you to ponder. Can you take pictures of a patient while the person is in your op? If your answer is, “Sure, that’s OK, as long as the person’s face doesn’t really show,” you’d be wrong. If anyone can recognize any part of his or her body and you did not gain the proper written consent, then you’re in breach of HIPAA. Your office is not in breach of HIPAA, you are. This means that you can be subject to fines that far exceed your salary, as well as the possibility of losing your job. Then what? Do you think you’ll be able to go down the street and get a job at another office? I don’t believe you’ll receive another offer when they find out that you were in breach of HIPAA.

A patient who hasn’t given written photo consent could very well give verbal consent to post a photo of them, but then become upset with the office for some reason and change their mind. So, it’s very important to always be cautious and get that photo consent in writing. You may not even be planning to take photos, but if the occasion presents itself, you’re covered with written consent.

File all this information away as food for thought! When it comes to your position in dental assisting, be your best, love what you do, and be good at it!

MORE MYTH BUSTERS
It’s OK to carry my cell phone through the workday
Assistants have no say in the practice's purchases
Is dental assisting really a dead-end job?

Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA, CDIA, MADAA, is the office manager and chairside assistant to Dr. Eric Hurtte of O’Fallon, Missouri. She is a member of the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA), where she holds the honor of Master and sits on three national counsels. She is also the Illinois Dental Assistants Association vice president. She is founder of the Dental Assistants Study Club of St. Louis and St. Louis Dental Office Managers Study Club. She is the director of the Dental Careers Institute, with five locations in the US. Tija is also the author of six CE study courses. She is a national speaker and a certified trainer in nitrous oxide in several states. She can be reached at tijaefda@gmail.com.


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