Social Media Advice for Nurses
Social media is one of the popular forms of communication. Today, more than 3.6 billion people use social media worldwide. Registered nurses are among the many professionals who use their favorite apps to stay in touch. Healthcare providers also use social media sites to advance their careers.
Besides sharing with family and friends, some of the most popular online activities for RNs include discussing topics in the medical field, shopping for scrubs on sale and reading blogs written by fellow nurses. These days, it is widely accepted for nurses to use social media and network for opportunities on sites like LinkedIn, but nursing professionals should still be aware of the risks of these platforms.
Remember: Just like a conversation in the office, what you post may become available to the public, even if it is not your intention. Thankfully, there are many ways for nurses to enjoy social networking and benefit from it professionally, all without any impact on work or reputation. The following bits of social media advice for nurses will encourage responsible and ethical posting. When nurses follow these tips, everyone can have fun and stay safe.
Do Not Post Patient Information
Nurses must adhere to HIPAA compliance in social media. This means acting as if you are in a hospital, private practice or nursing residence. Never share patient details or provide specific information about someone’s care without their written consent. This includes text, but it also includes photos or videos of a patient.
If you are an Internet-savvy nurse who wishes to participate in virtual case studies, talk about the latest surgical techniques or compare case scenarios with other medical professionals, know that it is even more essential to keep up to date on the latest HIPAA regulations and laws. If you are searching for a comprehensive guide, the Department of Health and Human Services’ HIPAA guide for professionals is an excellent place to start.
Posting personal information about a patient is unethical, but it may also be illegal. The consequences for failing to comply with HIPAA on social media may include financial penalties, termination of employment, suspension, nursing license revocation or even jail time. When in doubt, do not post. It is also a good idea to review employers’ policies for social media for additional compliance rules. Keep in mind that your workplace could expect you to adhere to higher standards than are set by patient confidentiality laws.
Create Personal and Professional Accounts
Most people like to have clear boundaries between their personal and professional lives. This includes in-person interactions, as well as online communications. If you do not feel comfortable keeping a public account with your personal information, create a professional one. One of your feeds can be for posting family vacation pictures and sharing content with friends. In contrast, your nursing account should be dedicated to professional graphics, videos and updates.
If your patients or colleagues want to connect with you on social media, you can provide them with your professional name, URL or social media handle. Your professional profile picture should include a headshot or a photo of you in men’s or women’s scrubs. If you plan on having friends and family follow your nursing accounts, remind them to keep comments business-like. Review both types of accounts regularly so you can delete or block inappropriate content.
Some nurses grow a large following or begin to receive requests for original content. In this case, consider hiring a social media manager or consultant. A professional with experience in healthcare marketing can help you to post the right messages at the right time. They can also help you to ensure you are compliant with regulatory bodies and rules such as the FDA or HIPAA.
Post Like You Are in Public
You may have your social media account set to private, but that does not mean your posts will stay there. Review each article or image before posting to be sure you would stand by it if it were viewed by the public. Some best practices include refraining from using curse words and avoiding political content. Try to keep a positive spin on your posts, and never criticize patients, coworkers or your employer.
Marketing experts recommend changing your privacy settings on Facebook, which includes your default sharing settings. This switch will ensure that only your Facebook friends can read your posts. You can also toggle the privacy settings at the bottom of each post if you prefer an even smaller audience to read them.
Settings differ depending on the platform, so it is important to learn how to adjust your privacy settings on each social media site. Even if you take these steps, your followers can “screenshot” your posts. This means they can take a photo of your content on their phone or laptop—so always use your discretion, even if you lock down your settings on each site.
Always Be Authentic
There are many considerations to keep in mind on social media, but it should still be entertaining, fun and rewarding. As a registered nurse, your followers will love to hear about your experiences with patients, as well as the advice you have for your fellow care providers.
Complying with industry rules and regulations does not mean you cannot show off your personality. As a nurse, you should still feel free to share photos of yourself enjoying healthy hobbies or being productive in the workplace without your patients. Post pictures of yourself smiling with your stethoscope around your neck or preparing a space for an examination. These are excellent visuals for garnering trust and showing authenticity.
If your colleagues or employer also share on social media, take photos together and tag each other. Give some social networking love to your fellow nurses and the providers, brands or companies you trust. Video posts are one of the most popular ways to build a relationship with your followers. Create recordings of yourself discussing the general types of cases you saw in a given day or what you think about the latest industry topics. The more your followers get to know you, the more willing they will be to like and comment.
Nursing and Navigating Social Media
Nurses make excellent contributions to social media. They also use it as an outlet to de-stress and connect after a long week of work. Know that as you are aware of your company’s social media policies and commit to memorizing HIPAA compliance rules on social networking sites, you will be ready to post online.
If your organization does not have a social media handbook, encourage your employer to create one. Having a clear set of standards can help to prevent patient mishaps, all while encouraging best practices in nurses who need social media guidance. While today’s nurses are navigating a new world, a focused and measured approach to learning new information and policies will help every medical provider stay on track. A secure and healthy online environment translates to better care and safety for nurses, workplaces and patients.