Let’s be real, most of us are on social media, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Snapchat, LinkedIn or any other social networking site. Social media is an easily accessible source of communication and many of our nurses use it.
We love to see our nurses post about their adventures in new cities, spreading positive messages about nursing, or meeting new nurse friends, but there is a dangerously thin line between social media and nursing professionalism. Use this guide to learn how you can use social media professionally.
If you are a nurse working in this respected profession, avoid posting these major no-no’s on social media.
Social Media Don’ts for Nurses:
Don’t Talk Poorly About Patients (even if they’re not identified)
A nurse must maintain patient confidentiality and privacy at all times. Most social media platforms are not as privacy forward as we believe. Openly sharing sensitive and confidential information can lead to conflicts with HIPAA. Do not talk about how rude a patient is, how unhealthy they are or anything they have done or said. It will most likely leak out, and even if it doesn’t, it causes others to view you as less professional and it makes the institution you are associated with look bad.
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Don’t Post Photographs of Patients
This is never a good idea. Pictures make it easy to identify who the patient is and what hospital it was taken at. This is a HIPAA violation and nurses could lose their licenses over it. Even if a nurse gains permission from a patient to take pictures, employers can still take action. Anything sent privately or posted to a closed forum has the potential to become public knowledge. Additionally, deleting statements and images from a social media account does not mean they have been completely removed from the internet.
Don’t Post Photos of Yourself or Co-Workers Goofing Around at Work
We all have fun every once in awhile at work, but taking pictures goofing off on the job is never a good idea for nurses. It can reflect poorly on your employer and look unprofessional, depending on what is happening in the picture.
Don’t Rant About Place of Employment
Whether it’s a current employer, or a past employer, do not speak negatively over social media about them. Disciplinary actions can be taken if a nurse speaks negatively on social media about co-workers, administrators, job duties, or the facility. Even when opinions are voiced under a strict privacy setting, there is always a possibility it can reach unintended readers. An inappropriate use of social media can lead to punishment and in the most serious cases, can negatively affect a nurse’s career and license.
If you chose to join an online forum or blog about your job, avoid using a workplace email as a primary means of identification. Also, do not use your employer's name, or anything specific about where you work, who you work with, or patients at your facility. Create an anonymous email address and username. Using a pseudonyms can help you stay off the radar.
Don’t Use Offensive Language or Voice Offensive Comments
Nurses work with a diverse flow of patients that come from a wide range of economic, ethnic and religious backgrounds. Making social media comments that are threatening, harassing, obscene, sexually explicit, racially derogatory, homophobic or are controversial can be grounds for disciplinary action at the workplace.
For more information on social media policies in the medial field, check out this brochure from The National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
Don’t let poor social media practices cause you disciplinary action, job loss, or even your license. Always make sure to think about these don'ts before posting.
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