Whether you’re a nurse who has just recently graduated from nursing school or have been in the field for years, the fact remains that nurses have a professional responsibility to use social media wisely. And while responsible social media use should apply to workers in every industry, this is perhaps especially true in the medical field. As such, there are a few tips you should know and follow the next time you log in.
- Privacy Settings Are Your Friend
The first rule of social media for nurses is that keeping your information as private as possible is a must. This way, people you haven’t explicitly “added” to your friends or followers list will have limited access to your personal information.
All social media networks have customizable privacy settings these days, so be sure to log into your account and make sure your accounts are as private as possible. For example, on Facebook, you can set up your account in such a way that a user you haven’t “friended” can see nothing more than your profile and cover photo.
- Remember Your Confidentiality Agreement
As a nursing professional, you should already know and understand the importance of patient-nurse confidentiality. No matter what the patient’s age, you should not be sharing any personal information about your patients on social media—even if your intentions are genuine. This includes:
– sharing the name of a patient
– communicating with patients via social media
– posting photos of your patients
Nurses can and have been fired because of social media mistakes that break their confidentiality agreements. For example, nurses have gotten into trouble for posting pictures of patients (with their consent) and sharing inspirational stories about them.
- Keep it Professional
Even if you’re currently employed as a nurse, there’s a chance that you could be looking for new nursing jobs in the future or that your current employer will want to check out your social media presence. As such, your social media profiles should always portray you in the most professional way as possible.
A few simple steps you can take to bolster your professional presence as a nurse include:
– “Liking” the American Nurses Association (AMA) on Facebook to stay up-to-date on industry news
– Following and participating in AMA conversations and nurse chats on Twitter
– Having a detailed LinkedIn profile with the AMA as a professional connection
By taking these steps, and by not posting anything on your social media pages that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see, you’ll be in a much better place professionally.
As you can see, using social media as a nurse can be a little trickier than in other professions, so you’ll need to take a few precautionary steps to ensure that you’re portrayed professionally and that you’re honoring your confidentiality agreement with your patients.