Life as a travel nurse is exciting, and with good reason. This career offers plenty of opportunities to explore new cities, meet new people, and work in an engaging environment. It’s understandable that many travel nurses often choose to document their travels – and sometimes their work lives – on social media.
It can be tempting to document your adventurous professional life on social media. Your followers will love seeing where you’ve been and will be interested in seeing “behind the scenes” of a day in the life of a travel nurse. Many nurses also gained popularity on social media during COVID-19 as a way to check in with the pandemic’s progress.
Most social media content you post is probably harmless and informative. However, before you press “publish,” you need to be aware of HIPAA guidelines to ensure that you don’t undermine patient trust and confidentiality.
HIPAA and Social Media
HIPAA guidelines are designed to protect patients and providers alike. They cover physical and digital interactions that involve private information like demographic details, current conditions, payment, and pictures.
If you’re found guilty of violating HIPAA guidelines, you may be fined up to $250,000 or sent to prison. It’s vital that you take HIPAA guidance seriously and should err on the side of caution if you’re unsure about the nature of your next post.
Unfortunately, HIPAA is slow to catch up to social media and the digital age. However, you can stay up to date with the latest changes on the government’s Health and Human Services (HHS) web page. The HHS website gives guidance on methods of de-identifying information so you can talk about your experiences without undermining patient confidentiality.
You also have to stay clear of Protected Health Information (PHI) at all times. This means you cannot post any identifying information concerning patients and should only share the details of a patient’s specific condition if you have their written permission.
It’s important to note that HIPAA will likely be updated to meet the demands of the digital age. Rather than falling foul of changing laws, be proactive and aim to represent yourself in a way that makes your patients proud.
Representing Yourself Online
Everyone wants to hear the gossip that goes on in a nurses’ staff room. It may be tempting to vent about a difficult patient on your private page, but social media is no place to discuss the details of your experience with patients.
There’s nothing wrong with sharing memories and moments from your personal life online, but imagine yourself in the shoes of your patients before you press “send.” Would they really want to see you gossiping about former patients? Or would they rather see you post informative information and a few highlights from your week?
Representing yourself professionally online can help you network, too. Networking is integral to life as a travel nurse, as you’ll need to leverage your contacts and maintain lasting connections if you want to continue to travel and work in the long term. Consider posting content that reflects well on you and shows that your commitment to nursing is sincere.
Social Media to Improve Health Outcomes
Social media is a great space to share information and connect with people outside of your field. You can significantly improve the health outcomes of your followers by posting informative, relevant, and accurate information on your social media pages.
Social media is also a great space to foster interprofessional collaboration. You can connect with healthcare professionals from around the world online to discuss best practices and sharpen your skill set. This can reduce your risk of making errors while at work and can direct your followers toward other reputable, accredited healthcare professionals.
Proceed with caution when posting any content that could inadvertently lead your followers to misdiagnose themselves. Self-diagnosis is notoriously inaccurate, but your followers may be more likely to attempt self-diagnosis based on your content. Instead, foreground the importance of seeing a healthcare professional and provide affordability tips to folks who may be facing financial hardship.
Community Health on Social Media
You can use your position as a travel nurse to build thriving, supportive communities wherever you travel. This may sound like a tall order at first, but HIPAA-compliant, community-focused social content can raise healthcare standards in your area.
Creating community-focused social content is particularly important if some members of the community are currently underserved. Community-oriented content can highlight success stories and improve healthcare engagement rates in the area. Consider posting highlights from local rallies and healthcare drives, or speak to your hospital to see if they have any programs that you can throw your social support behind.
You can also use your position to advocate for folks who are particularly vulnerable in the healthcare system. HIPAA conventions prevent you from posting confidential information, but you can still use your voice to support causes that you care about. So, if there’s an upcoming vote, consider taking to social media to make your position clear.
Social media is a minefield for healthcare professionals. You cannot reveal any information that identifies patients and should steer clear of content that undermines your professional persona. However, when leveraged correctly, HIPAA-compliant social media posts can improve the health outcomes of your followers and help raise community healthcare standards.