Privacy, confidentiality, policy & ethics

By being on placement you have entered the professional world. You need to be aware of the boundaries between:

  • formal vs informal
  • learning vs working
  • public vs private
  • home vs placement
  • face-to-face vs virtual
  • anonymous vs identified
  • sharing vs appropriating

When you intend to use mobile technology, including taking photos, you need to consider carefully the social and cultural contexts, user preferences, motivations and purposes. Especially consider the different motivations and priorities of the end-user, the workplace educator and the lecturer. Issues include:

  • Safety of access (virus free) and content
  • Privacy, Confidentiality and Disclosure
  • Equality, Diversity and Harassment
  • Defamation (Libel)
  • Code of conducts
  • Complaints
  • Disciplinary procedures

It is important you carefully read legal documents and placement agreements, then discuss with your teachers, supervisors and host organisation their expectations and how these impact your conduct at work and online.

Your university will have privacy and confidentiality requirements during and after your placement, that may include:

  • Do not disclose in any written document, conversation, presentation or online communication the names, or personal and identifying information without the person’s permission.
  • Do not capture narratives, photos or dialogues of clinical experiences using information technology or social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or blogs.
  • Do not publicly share anything about an individual or the host organisation that may be controversial or embarrassing. If you have any concerns about a person or their actions at your placement, do not discuss or post it publicly, but instead discuss the situation with your placement supervisor and university teacher.

The use of social networks may not be deemed suitable in certain professional contexts. When you use mobile technology you should think carefully about the tools you use, how you use them and who has access to them. Do not assume that people have given consent. You need to ask first and understand the privacy and confidentiality policies. Beware that some people are reluctant or even refuse to be included in videos.

Solutions to safely navigate through these issues include analysing the risks  involved.

Do you know who can view what is recorded? Where and how is it accessibility? Consider to what extent anonymity should be enforced. What measures should you take to protect your own anonymity? Consider the potential risks versus the benefits of having your work identified by your family and friends?

'Privacy, confidentiality and security’ section of GPS for WPL’s FAQ.

Knowing what information is safe to share, and what information is not, is one of the great challenges of the digital age....

NSW Department of Education & Communities’ Social Media Policy

Australian Medical Association's guide to the proper use of personal mobile devices when taking clinical images

Review your university’s policies:

Find out if your university, faculty or school provides a consent or permission form for clients, patients, pupils to sign allowing you to observe, record and/or take photos. Here is one such example from CSU's Faculty of Education and Arts: Permission to Observe Form