Education | Published:

Older and wiser? First year BDS graduate entry students and their views on using social media and professional practice

BDJ volume 225, pages 437440 (14 September 2018) | Download Citation


Key points

  • Offers insight into how mature students view the use of social media.

  • Explores first year BDS graduate entry students' views on using social media and professional practice.

  • Highlights some of the challenges in teaching professionalism to dental students.



The use of social media sites (SMS) has increased exponentially since their creation and introduction in the early 2000s. The number of regular users of SMS is estimated at over two billion people worldwide. Ethical and legal guidelines exert an additional responsibility on the behaviour of both graduate and undergraduate dentists when compared to members of the general public with some assumption that life experience can offer some insight into attitudes about online use of social media in relation to professional practice.


We set out to explore the views of the first year graduate entry programme students at the University of Central Lancashire and their use of SMS together with their opinions on what they consider to be professional online behaviour.


A mixed-methods approach was adopted with a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews which were designed to elicit the students' opinions.


For this group of students, 100% were using social media sites and some were aware of some of their limitations and possible impact on their careers. There was some rather superficial knowledge of what is and is not professional to post via social media, however, students were not fully aware about the legal and ethical guidelines in place in relation to the topic.


Results from this study present an opportunity and a challenge for educators to incorporate additional details not only about professionalism and ethical and legal aspects within the undergraduate curriculum but more specific emphasis on the use of social media as part of the undergraduate BDS course.

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Author information


  1. School of Medicine and Dentistry, Allen Building – Adelphi Street, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, PR1 2HE;

    • P. N. Knott
  2. University of Bedfordshire, Healthcare Practice, Putteridge Burry Campus, Hitchin Road, Luton, LU2 8LE

    • H. S. Wassif


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Correspondence to H. S. Wassif.

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