A busy nursing shift can make it feel like you’re being stretched in a million different directions at once. Now thanks to social media, nurses can actually (or at least their content can) exist in the palms of smartphone users across the nation and throughout the world. Yet, as the ubiquitousness of mobile technology and social platforms remains strong, this resource presents a range of responsibilities and considerations for medical workers in particular.
Privacy laws mark a dangerously thin line between one’s professional life and personal social media presence or persona. Navigating chat rooms, blogs, public forums, or even your run-of-the-mill Facebook comment section can serve to influence your working life. This might be even more true for nurses looking to travel for new assignments as prospective employers judge your first impression based on a distasteful post or an unfortunately tagged photo from that bachelor party.
Easy Communication with Hard Consequences
While we’re free to express ourselves in unique and (hopefully) intentional ways on social media, there’s an appropriate time and technique to be doing so when it comes to nursing. What may seem like a harmless post could actually result in disciplinary action, even negatively affecting one’s career and license. Let’s examine how social media can remain a useful tool without causing irreparable professional damage:
One of the most obvious and important aspects of medicine is patient privacy and the protection of confidential information. I’ll say it now: Social media is not so good with these things. Though it’s easy to whip out the iPhone for a quick Tweet about some humorous situation (maybe involving actual humors) you may find yourself under review before the retweets start to roll in.
According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), confidential information should be shared only with the patient’s informed consent, when legally required, or where failure to disclose the information could result in significant harm. Tweets about the details of someone’s injury or the number of medications they have to take don’t usually fall into this category.
Social Media Recommendations
So obviously use your judgment with public (or private) posts, especially if they are created during a shift or on your facility’s premises. Generally speaking, do not:
Post comments or complaints about patient health
Post photographs of patients
Rant about the workplace or coworkers
Use offensive language or incite controversy
Yes, everyone has the freedom to express themselves, but that doesn’t mean you can intentionally offend coworkers and breach patient privacy standards… Well, not if you want to keep your position at least.
Think about it – you’re an educated, hard-working nursing professional so what can you do to elevate your colleagues and your own career via social media? To start, you can use your electronic voice to educate the public on nursing and inspire more people to take up the profession – it’s not like there’s a staffing shortage or anything.
We Approve This Message:
If you’re traveling constantly or just interested in sharing other nursing related resources, take up blogging to become a self-made expert on all things healthcare. This can really display your commitment to the field, making it easy to find new opportunities and connections.
On a less labor-intensive note, use your Twitter or Facebook to share official information in times of crises or post health safety notices explaining drug recall information. Nurses can provide quick and critical assistance to the public with a simple retweet or by using a hashtag.
If nothing else, try to cultivate a sense of positivity during health emergencies or epidemics – it’s a frequent trend for the internet to lose it’s collective calm during disease outbreaks or disasters.
Just remember, breaching patient privacy and safety do not make for appropriate subjects of a witty Snapchat story or Twitter chat, while humanizing the nursing profession is at your fingertips. That being said, sharing this very blog can be your very first step to a long line of positively impactful posts!