Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

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Social Media Do’s and Don’ts for Nurses in 2017

Social media can be a useful tool for staying connected to family and friends, keeping up with local and regional news, and sharing your own personal insights. As you pursue your DNP degree and prepare for your career as an advanced practice nurse, however, it is important that you tread carefully when you utilize social media.

Here is a list of social media do’s and do not’s for nurses in 2017:

Do Share Valuable Information

Image via Flickr by Helga V. Keitel

Your advanced education and experience in the medical field may put you in a unique position to help others learn about health in general and the medical industry. An article from Nurse Buff advises, “Stay visible and relevant in the social media sphere by talking about your interests in the health care and nursing fields. Discussing the latest news about your work-related interests increases your online visibility and creates awareness among people not in the industry.”

LinkedIn may prove to be an especially valuable tool for showing your expertise. It is a network orientated toward professionals, so it is possible that being active on it could help you grow your career.

Another possibility is for you to begin your own blog or contribute to an existing blog. Doing so may establish you as an authoritative voice in the nursing industry, and you may be able to inform and inspire the people who read what you write.

You could also share tips with your patients on how to use social media to take care of their health. For example, if you know of a publication that provides truthful and timely information about a certain medical condition, you could recommend that your patient follow that source on social media.

Do Not Share Private Patient Information

Never forget that HIPAA regulations apply to social media as much as they do in your other everyday activities. According to Healthcare Compliance Pros, some examples of HIPAA violations that could occur via social media include:

  • Posting gossip about a specific patient, even if you do not disclose the patient’s name
  • Sharing any photographs or protected health information (PHI) without written consent from the patient
  • Publicly posting information about a client, mistakenly believing that something you posted is private
  • Sharing photos that seem innocent, such as a lunch among coworkers, when patient records are visible in the photographs

Do Talk Positively About Your Job

You may become stressed out sometimes, but it would be unwise of you to vent your frustrations on social media. Scrubs Mag advises, “Consider that your co-worker/friends on social media could one day be your nursing supervisor or boss.” Publicly displaying a negative attitude about your job could lead your boss, or future potential employers, to believe that you could influence your co-workers in an undesirable way.

Another potential advantage of making positive posts about your job is that you could draw others toward the nursing profession. You could do this by commenting on any personal satisfaction you gain from your job, talking about opportunities to travel that your profession has given you, and giving inspirational insights into what it is like to work as a high-level nurse.

Do Not Endanger Your Own Privacy or Reputation

Travel Nurse Across America advises, “Be aware of your internet footprint and the content associated with your name both personally and professionally.” It may not be desirable for details of your personal life and your professional life to cross paths on social media, especially if some of your activities outside of work hours could be construed as unprofessional. If you wish to lessen anxiety about how you may be perceived, you could create separate social media accounts — some for interacting with other professionals, and some for interacting with your family and friends.

Do not allow just anyone, including your patients, to follow you on social media because, as Scrubs Mag notes, “The internet is more powerful than many people realize, and sharing information online has become the equivalent of having someone in your house for a cup of coffee. You wouldn’t socialize with a patient outside of work, so look at the internet in the same fashion.”

Whichever social media networks you choose to use, make it a point to visit your privacy settings regularly, and read any updates to the networks’ privacy policies so you know what information about you is publicly accessible.

Do Be Aware of What Others Are Posting

You cannot exercise complete control over what is posted about you on social media. Your patients, friends, and family may put photographs of you online that you do not wish to have in the public eye. If you receive a notification that you have been tagged in another person’s post, you can ask that person to remove the tag or even take down the post.

As a nurse leader, you can speak to your team members about their use of social media and encourage them to adopt best practices.

Do Not Disregard the Consequences of Improper Conduct

Healthcare Compliance Pros noted that according to the Department of Health and Human Services, many HIPAA violations have occurred in recent years as a result of social sharing. If you commit such a violation, you could incur monetary or even criminal penalties; the maximum sentence is up to 10 years in prison. Other negative consequences that may stem from misuse of social media include job loss, loss of licensure, and other disciplinary actions according to state laws and the rules of the facility where you work.

Social media has the potential to be a powerful force for good in the health care sector. However, mishandling it can result in severe consequences for nurses. By being careful to protect your privacy, your patients’ privacy, and your reputation, you can rest easy knowing that you are staying within ethical boundaries.

As you strive to advance your career, you may leverage the power of social media. As you keep these do’s and don’ts in mind, remember the positives of online mediums for both your career and your personal life. For instance, you may even choose to utilize social channels to connect with your fellow students and alumni as you pursue your Maryville University Online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.