Saturday, January 10, 2009

Welcome to the Ethics in the ER Blog

Welcome to the course blog for MHE 597E: Ethics in the ER. We are requiring course participants to make one entry or comment a week. This may seem daunting for folks not used to blogs or blogging, but I think you will find it pretty easy. This post is meant to provide you with some basic instructions about making entries on this blog. (It will stay at the top of the queue for a week.)

Is This Blog Private?

You may have concerns about blogs as a public repository of ideas. Statements made on blogs, in social networking sites, or on personal websites have lives of their own. They persist, even after the site is deleted. As such, it is important to us that this be an environment where your comments are safe and freely offered. Using the Blogger program, you may select an an anonymous user name or may use your name (like I do). There are benefits to both options - the main one for me using my real name is that I want the credit and accountability for what I write. It's a good habit to get into thinking that what you post will be visable to all, but if you are on the fence at all, I recommend you choose an anonymous name. (Be sure to email me your name so that you get credit for your posts!) This blog will be publicly accessible, but only class participants will be able to post new entries.

Getting Started:

Blogger is owned by (surprise!) Google. This means that you will need a Google account to use the blog. If you already have a Gmail address, you can use that one, but be aware that your email may be linked to your user name. If you want to be fully anonymous, consider making a second Google account with a separate email address. (You can even use your address. Your username can still be a pseudonym.) Set up your user name by following this link, or just follow the directions in the invitation email you received on 1/3. When you make your blogger profile, the name you use to post and your first and last name fields are each different. If you want to be anonymous, you do not have to use your real name.

Once you have an account, check out your dashboard. You have received an invitation to join the Ethics in the ER blog, and should see it here. If there is any step that doesn't work out, this will be the one. Email Thomas if you cannot get to this step, or we can sort it out on Wednesday after class. Every time you log in, you can use the dashboard to view the blog or make a new post.

Post Content:

You can reply to a comment by clicking on the "X Comments" link at the end of the post or make a new post by clicking "New Post" at the top of the screen.

So now that you have an account, what exactly do you post? For guidance, we make the following suggestion (from the syllabus):
Each week, instructors will post a vignette or news story relevant to emergency medicine or medical ethics. Students are asked to type one response to this topic or to the assigned reading. Entries may take many forms. We expect to receive entries similar to what is found on other blogs: reviews of the reading, ‘ah-ha’ moments, questions you are left with, rants about politics, an account of a relevant patient encounter, a poem, or links to other stories or internet resources. When possible, entries should include concepts learned from class.
One final note is that HIPPA compliance does not stop with blogging. It is important that you maintain confidentiality if you ever refer to anything associated with a patient encounter. For tips on how to do that, you can consult the Healthcare Blogger Code of Ethics. I (Thomas) will be your point person for questions about blogging or the blog, so feel free to send me an email at any time, or post a comment below.

Happy blogging!

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