Image of a nurse on his mobile phone to accompany an article with tips on how to use social media responsibly as a nurse

Tips on Social Media & Nursing

Social media has become crucial to sharing information among people and for forming networks to exchange ideas and staying connected. As a nurse, or other health care professional, you probably use social media to share information, but also to just socialize and share a meme or two.

If you’re known as a health care worker and you use social media, it’s important that you take some precautions with what you post and share online. Social media platforms can be used to help you connect with patients and colleagues, but it can also be used by hiring managers to see if a candidate is a good fit.

How Health Care Professionals Use Social Media

The health care industry has evolved significantly in the last few years with social media as the new model of communication. As of a 2013 survey in the U.S., 73% of patients connected to their specialists and health care professionals via social media, and usage of and reliance on social media has continued to increase rapidly each year.  

With the launch of online services and social platforms, it has become easier for patients to stay connected with nurses and doctors as they self-monitor their health issues. Via social media, patients can share their experiences, medical conditions, and other relevant information with other patients and with medical experts. The internet is flooded with websites that track health care measures, rate health care professionals, and show provider locations and availability with a few clicks. 

Social media platforms offer ample space for patients to communicate openly with their specialists and feel involved in their treatment.

Nursing and Social Media

The most popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, can be used to discuss health care-related topics, promote your profession, and encourage healthy lifestyles. By using social media, you can help promote positive health care practices — if you’re planning to only use it as a professional.

Social media use can benefit you if you wish to collaborate and connect with your peers and colleagues. You can share anything from trending health care news to the latest medical developments and technologies. You may want to create a private, separate account on platforms to use to stay in touch with family and friends, though.

Social Media Do’s for Nurses

Social media is a great tool to use to stay on top of tech and health care changes and improvements. Many nursing schools use social media to engage their students by sharing opportunities for discussion and networking. As a nurse, you can share your knowledge by posting relevant health care news. You can also help educate those around you not in the industry. 

Uplift Others on Social Media 

Nurses can use social media to uplift fellow nurses and recommend the career field. When people see your job satisfaction, it plants a seed of suggestion. Your desire to help others can potentially ignite the drive in someone else to do the same.

Always Be Professional

When communicating online, you should strive to present yourself in a professional manner. It’s not a great idea to wear or post anything on social media that you wouldn’t be comfortable wearing or saying in a room with a patient. Your social media history is a reflection of not only yourself but of where you work.

Social Media Don’ts

There is always a risk of violating the privacy and confidentiality of the patients by using social media for sharing information. Posting videos and pictures of patients without their consent, making degrading comments on social media, and sharing too many details about the patient, are some of the most commonly observed privacy violations. 

Health care professionals must be compliant with the code of conduct and standards established by your employer while using social media for sharing information. Patient information shared between practices is secured as health care professionals have to abide by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 

Medical records of patients shared in an electronic format are subject to certain privacy constraints and the nurses and specialists sharing this information have to abide by the law. With such secured and easy sharing of data, medical providers can easily collaborate to provide better services to patients. 

Keep in mind, social media use should be limited to your own time. Do not engage in social media while on the clock. Additionally, avoid using your employer’s internet and always use your own device. 

Nurses must remain focused and productive during a shift. Social media use can cause interruptions and distractions that create a vulnerable environment.

Reminders to Nurses Using Social Media

Even though it is easy to have medical-related discussions on social media platforms, there can be a certain lack of credibility and reliability if sources aren’t properly vetted that can lead to confusion. Unfortunately, many people use what they read on the internet and shared on social media to self-diagnose. 

While using social media as a tool, nurses can create a learning environment that promotes a healthy lifestyle and provides high-quality health care information. If used appropriately, social media has the potential to benefit not just nurses, but the health care industry as a whole.