The Nation's Health + [Blogging]

The Students Guide To Blogging

This post is the result of various requests and emails I have had over the last few months, mainly from student paramedics. Being 2014 and very much an online world, prospective students and current students, and indeed anyone else, turns to the Internet to find out what the job is like from the people doing the jobs. Many, it appears have stumbled across my blog as a point of reference! In a number of cases, it has led them to want to start their own blog of their experiences from training, all the way through to qualifying! I've been asked the same questions on a number of occasions so thought I'd stick my answers into a post for them, and anyone else, whatever level, who was considering starting an ambulance blog or similar. These are my views from my experiences and by no means are a strict set of rules! However, they have kept me out of trouble and generally well received!

For The Love Of God, Why?!

Why are you blogging? Seems a stupid question to ask, but the answer will impact on how successful you are and how much you enjoy writing it. My only advise on this matter, is to write it for you and you alone. If you start writing what you think other people want you to write or hear, invariably it won't work. Don't try and be something you're not and don't lie. By lying, I mean to embellish to point it's unbelievable. Don't pretend you are doing things way outside you clinical scope of practise. By all means you can and should use poetic license but do so for the right reasons. Also, don't write wanted fame, fortune, awards and a book deal! If you deserve any of the above, it will come to you because of your writing, not because you want it to happen! Trust me, I'm still waiting patiently for all of the above! ;)

To Be (Anonymous) or Not To Be?

This is one of the biggest decisions when you start out. Do you write anonymously, or as yourself. There are advantages to both and don't rush the decision. Personally, I decided to write under a pseudonym. I felt I had more freedom of expression anonymously and I wouldn't get personally judged face to face. That said, being anonymous also has it's drawbacks and frustrations. Do whatever is right for you. What I would say, is try to avoid being anonymous because you think you can get away with saying what you want. You really can't and if you overstep the line, you'll quickly find your anonymity isn't as sacred as you may like.

Do You Want The Sack?

Will you get in trouble? You might. Firstly it depends on your employer and their social media policy and secondly, it depends what you write! Although I write anonymously, I have been made aware that my employer is aware of who I am! Why am I still writing? Because I haven't crossed a line. At no point in any of my posts have I ever mentioned the name of who employs me, nor have I ever criticised them. Sure, like all organisations, the one I work for has its faults, but by openly criticising them I'm simply putting a target on me! It is also not why I started a blog. I started to share my experiences, good and bad, in my life as a paramedic. I didn't do it to moan about policy and procedure and personally, I don't think that content has any place in a blog of this kind. Be all means ignore me, but I know of plenty who have fallen foul of this and paid the price. Be wise!

Confidentiality 101

As a healthcare professional you have a duty to protect the anonymity and confidentiality of your patients. As a paramedic, you not only have to respect this on behalf of your employer, but also the HCPC. Follow the codes of conduct and don't write anything that could be linked back to a specific patient. No names, no addresses, no nothing that could lead anyone back to them! And no bloody photos! How you do this is down to you, but there are plenty of jobs I would love to write about, but they are just too high profile. I change the ages, the sexes, the circumstances and everything else I can to protect the identity of my patients. Sure, what is left is as much a work of fiction as it is reality, but I get my point across. I also don't publish posts immediately after the event. Always leave it as long as you can. If you think 'I might get in trouble for this post' then you probably will!

Don't Be An Idiot!

It goes without saying, that if you are writing about your treatment of a patient, don't write things which are clinically wrong or incompetent. Don't write about giving Diazepam to someone with back pain, when you know it isn't indicated! At work, you always act within your guidelines and scope of practise, don't change that when you write! You need to think about each post and stand by it. If you can justify everything you did and everything you have written then the chances are it's fine. If you have doubts about part of it, get rid of them!

Haters gonna Hate!

If you are publishing a blog it is in the public domain. If you allow comments, anyone can comment. Remember that. Also remember that no matter how hard you try and no matter how well you think you did something, there will always be someone who thinks different, and they will tell you. There will be people who hate you! I used to let it bother me but try not to let it! You'll find some bloggers will be supportive of you, some will be negative. Some think they are wildly superior and will get their cronies to say the same as them. Ignore it all! Two years ago I was told I was unprofessional and no place in the blogging community. Well, jump forward two year, 1,000,000 blog hits later and finalist in various blog competitions, those words and threats mean nothing. Remember, write for you and only you! Also, you write about a controversial subject you are guaranteeing negativity. Personally, I enjoy being the fox in the hen house. I'm an opinionated know it all and will say what I think! That may not be your style, but if it is, expect the agro that can and will follow!

Share Share Share

USE SOCIAL MEDIA! People won't happen across your blog and become an avid reader. You need to put it out there. Get on Twitter, Facebook, Bloglovin etc and talk to people! Invite bloggers to guest blog on your page to get people reading! When you start out you want to post regularly so people have stuff to read! However, if you have nothing to write about, don't force the issue! Talk to people, start conversations, engage in conversations. Just get out there! Have your own opinions and share them! No one wants to read about someone sitting on the fence! If you don't want it 'out there' then write each post in a book instead and start it off with 'Dear Diary'.

Jerry's Final Thought

Finally, enjoy it! I write because I enjoy writing! Plain and simple. I stop blogging from time to time and take a long break, mainly because I lose enjoyment. When you aren't enjoying writing, it shows. The social media and blogging community can be such a welcoming place. There are great people out there, some of who are now my closest friends. Just because yours is an ambulance blog, that doesn't mean you can only interact with similar! I hardly talk to any ambulance bloggers (Apart from Binder, his antics amuse me). There are police bloggers (MentalHealthCop), family bloggers (MamaOwl), parenting bloggers (MyTwoMums), fashion bloggers (BigFashionista - bitchy opinions for free) and many many more to enjoy! So go and enjoy them! You'll get much more out of blogging if you don't seclude yourself to one small group of people!

Get involved and don't be an idiot!

PS: You know what I said about haters? If I see any of you hating on me, I'm gonna hunt you down!