6 Tips – Nurses and Social Media

The Nerdy Nurse wrote a great post called 18 patient identifiers hippa defines as off limits. Nurses and social media is a hot topic these days because of recent actions by some student nurses posting pictures on Facebook. Be very careful about what you post on social media sites. It not only hurts the patient you are talking about, it hurts your nursing career as well. It’s not worth it.

Nurses and social media are a great combination if used wisely. You can still tell a story without identifying a patient by choosing your words carefully!

Here are 6 Tips for Nurses Using Social Media~

    1. Talk in general about patients such as “working with oncology patients has taught me…” You can definitely make generalizations about a group of patients, much better than saying “Nancy, my oncology patient taught me…”

    2. Use the word “previously” rather than saying recently, yesterday or last week. Even saying two years ago is not recommended.  You can also say “over the years working with…” or “In my experience working with oncology patients …

    3. Don’t say “my patients family members had such a hard time coping with their mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer, arguing with everything I said, that it was difficult to do teaching with them.” Instead say something like “When dealing with a patient’s family members who are struggling to cope with a diagnosis can be challenging for nurses.”  You could go on to give tips on how to handle these kinds of situations or something informative that helps a new nurse handle a situation like this.

    4. Stay away from using words like “my patient, a patient I had last week, my friends patient, this goes back to generalizing groups of patients instead of talking about one patient in particular.

    5. Also stay away from talking about locations, such as “while working in the ICU in Newark, Delaware.” People here in Delaware will know exactly what hospital you are talking about (it’s the only one here) so don’t mention location, please!

    6. And stop taking pictures of patients and posting them on FB, such as patient’s wounds, I don’t want to see this and neither do your friends, trust me.  This is a sure way of getting fired or kicked out of nursing school. Just read recent news stories of this happening to nurses, Duh! What were you thinking!

American Nurses Association Stand on Social Media

“Social networks and the Internet provide unparalleled opportunities for rapid knowledge exchange and dissemination among many people, but this exchange does not come without risks. Nurses and nursing student have an obligation to understand the nature, benefits and consequences of participating in social networking of all types. Online content and behavior has the potential to enhance or undermine not only the individual nurse’s career but also the nursing profession.”

Think critically about this when posting any content online because you will be held responsible for all your actions online, no excuses.  You are a professional, don’t put yourself in this positron. As Oprah says, do you want this information to be front page news tomorrow morning in the local newspaper or worst yet on national news that evening? If the answer is no, then don’t post the content, It’s as simple as that.

If you need more help on social media and nursing, grab a copy of The Nurse’s Social Media Advantage: How Making Connections and Sharing Ideas Can Enhance Your Nursing Practice It will explain everything you need to know about using social media wisely.

Tina 🙂