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DiversityNursing Blog

Social Media Best Practices For Nurses

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Dec 06, 2023 @ 02:12 PM

Social media can be a powerful tool for Nurses to connect with colleagues, share information, and engage with the broader healthcare community. However, it's important to use social media responsibly and professionally.

Here are some best practices for Nurses using social media:

Maintain Patient Confidentiality

One of the most critical aspects of being a Nurse on social media is to prioritize patient confidentiality. It is essential never to share any patient information that could potentially identify them, including names, photos, or any specific details about their condition. Even seemingly innocent posts or comments can inadvertently disclose information, so you must be cautious about what you share.

Respecting patient confidentiality is not only an ethical responsibility but also a legal requirement. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) strictly protects patient privacy and prohibits healthcare professionals from sharing any identifiable information without the patient's consent. Violating patient confidentiality can result in serious consequences, including legal actions and even the loss of your nursing license.

Patient trust is of utmost importance, and maintaining their privacy and confidentiality is a fundamental part of providing quality healthcare. By practicing responsible social media use and being mindful of what you share, you can protect patient confidentiality and maintain the trust and respect of your colleagues and the broader healthcare community.

Separate Personal and Professional Accounts

Consider having separate social media accounts for personal and professional use. Maintaining separate accounts allows you to establish a clear boundary between your personal life and your role as a Nurse. By keeping personal information and professional content separate, you can ensure your online presence aligns with your professional image and responsibilities.

Having separate accounts allows you to maintain a sense of privacy and control over the information you share. You can choose to share personal updates and photos with your friends and family on your personal account, while keeping your professional account strictly focused on healthcare-related content.

Follow Employer Policies and Guidelines

Nurses should familiarize themselves with their workplace's social media policies and guidelines. Healthcare institutions may have specific rules and regulations regarding social media use, and it is essential to comply with them thoroughly. By understanding and adhering to these policies, Nurses can ensure that their social media activities align with the expectations and standards set by their employers.

Employer policies and guidelines are put in place to protect both the healthcare institution and its employees. They often outline what is considered acceptable and unacceptable behavior on social media platforms. These rules may include restrictions on posting patient information, engaging in inappropriate discussions, or sharing confidential information related to the workplace.

Think Before You Post

When it comes to social media, it's easy to get caught up in the moment and impulsively share a post or comment without considering the potential consequences. However, as a Nurse, you should take a moment to think before you hit that "post" button.

Your online presence is a reflection of your professional reputation. What you share on social media can impact how colleagues, patients, and the broader healthcare community perceive you. Therefore, be mindful of the content you share and the potential implications it may have.

Promote Positive Health Messages

As a Nurse on social media, you have a unique opportunity to promote positive health messages and educate your audience about various health topics. Use your platform to share accurate and reliable health information that can help people make informed decisions about their well-being.

If you come across misinformation or false claims on social media, address them in a respectful and educational manner. Correcting misinformation not only helps individuals make better health choices, but it also contributes to the overall improvement of public health.

When correcting misinformation, provide credible sources and evidence to support your claims. This can help establish your expertise and build trust with your audience. Focus on the facts and avoid engaging in arguments or personal attacks. Your goal should be to educate and inform, rather than to engage in confrontations.

Engage Professionally

Engaging professionally on social media as a Nurse can provide valuable opportunities for networking, learning, and collaboration. By participating in professional discussions, sharing relevant articles, and connecting with other healthcare professionals, you can stay informed about the latest trends, research, and best practices in the Nursing field.

Participating in online Nursing communities is an excellent way to connect with colleagues who share similar interests and challenges. These communities often provide a platform for discussing complex cases, seeking advice, and sharing experiences. By contributing to these discussions, you can expand your knowledge, gain insights from others' expertise, and build a strong professional network.

Monitor Privacy Settings

Regularly reviewing and updating your privacy settings allows you to have control over who can see your posts and helps protect patient confidentiality. However, it is essential to be aware even with privacy settings in place, information can sometimes be shared beyond your intended audience.

To effectively monitor your privacy settings, make it a habit to check and update them regularly. This ensures you are utilizing the latest features and options available on social media platforms. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the privacy settings of each platform and customize them according to your preferences.

Social media can have a lasting impact, and it's crucial to uphold the ethical standards and professionalism expected in the healthcare field. Always prioritize patient confidentiality and use social media as a tool for positive engagement and education.

Topics: Ethics, social networking, social media, nurses social media

Networking Tips For Nurses

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Jun 08, 2018 @ 10:29 AM

networkingIf the idea of chatting up a complete stranger in hopes of landing your next job gives you sweaty palms, dry mouth, and the jitters, you are not alone. Networking is difficult, even for the most sociable types of people. Think of networking events as a low-pressure way to make new connections and stay engaged in your industry.

Networking is also a great way to make personal connections and build relationships with other Nursing professionals so that you can share tips and advice, lean on each other for support, and converse.

Join Organizations

Every healthcare specialty has its own professional organization. These organizations offer many training and conference events, which are excellent opportunities for networking. They'll also help you stay current of the latest practice, regulation and technology developments that are relevant to your field.

Attend Conferences

When attending conferences use these tips.

• Wear your name tag on your left lapel so you don’t block your name when shaking hands. If you fill out the name tag yourself, print clearly so your name and title are visible from about 5 feet away. That way, others won’t need to squint at your chest to read your name.

• Keep your handshake firm and friendly. Don’t hang on, and don’t pump! Remember to make eye contact, and smile.

• Keep breath mints handy. Networking usually takes place around drinks and food, and the first thing that greets a new contact shouldn’t be the garlic and onion dip.

• Keep your business cards handy (a business card holder is best), but don’t throw them at everyone you meet. Hand your business card to a contact so it’s right side up and facing that person. When someone hands you a business card, take a moment to look at it; then say thank you and carefully put it away. 

Use Social Media

Social media sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, allow you to connect with industry and professional organizations, as well as individuals. This will keep you up to date on upcoming training and informational events in your area. LinkedIn is especially useful to reach out to potential mentors and experienced professionals who may provide future references.

Use Existing Connections

It’s important to realize that your professional network isn’t just the people you know. It’s exponential beyond that; the people you know have connections, who have connections, and so on. Reach out to your existing colleagues in the medical world and ask for introductions to people they think you should know.

When it comes to networking in the Nursing field, it’s to be understood that it’s a two-way street. While it’s reasonable to look out for one’s own professional interests and aims, it’s also important to help someone in need. Whenever you receive a professional request, please consider it as if you need it for yourself. Try to remain open to whatever comes your way and be ready to provide a helping hand to others in need. This also applies to your social media accounts. Try to maintain a good response rate and interact with people whenever and wherever possible.

Don't forget to follow up

Leaving at the end of a networking event can mean your mind is swirling with leads for future positions, ideas for your resume, and new mentors to reach out to in the coming days. Before you lose the momentum of the connections you’ve just made, remember to follow up. Send a quick note by email or LinkedIn to the people you’d like to stay in touch with.

Professional networking is one of the best approaches to land the job you want. Do you have any tips to offer? We'd love to hear them! Please comment below. 

Topics: social networking, professional networking

Professional social networking for nurses

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:25 PM

Author: Anita Prinz, MSN, RN, CWOCN, CFNC, COS-C

WHEN MY GRANDPARENTS were children, they communicated in person or by letter. In my parents’ generation, the telephone became popular. Today, much of our communication takes place through social media—namely, social networking websites and services. Websites such as Facebook® and LinkedIn® and social media services such as Twitter® let us connect with a network of friends and colleagues to share ideas, updates, and events in a virtual community. Many nursing organizations are accessible on these sites. For instance, if you use the microblogging service Twitter, you can get up-to-the minute mini-messages ("tweets") on your cell phone from colleagues, or you can follow organizations such as the American Nurses Association (ANA) and Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI).

Using social media for professional networking with colleagues worldwide is proving to be an effective way to advance your career. It’s easy and free, too. Social networking helps nurses think more globally and understand nursing perspectives in other parts of the country and world. Online nursing groups give you unlimited opportunities to network with like-minded nurses in your profession or specialty.

To network with peers in your specialty, you can join a nursing group or form your own specialty nursing group. You can stay in touch with group members by registering with the social media websites they use and creating a profile. Use of these websites is fairly intuitive for the average computer user.

FaceBook, the largest social networking site, claims to have more than 500 million active users around the world connecting to an average of 80 community pages, groups, and events. Professional nursing associations such as the ANA and journals such as American Nurse Today have Facebook pages that allow users to connect with an online community of nurses.

LinkedIn claims it has 100 million members worldwide and is gaining about 1 million new members every week. It maintains it gives users the keys to controlling their online identities because its subscriber profiles rise to the top of Google and other search engine results. With its job search tools and company pages, LinkedIn is a great site if you’re looking for work or exploring career options. You can search for employers you want to research and find out which companies’ profiles are the most viewed, fastest growing, and most connected. Posting your profile (which should include a photo of yourself, your current position, where you work, past work experience, and education) helps the right people and opportunities find you.

Twitter users can send and receive tweets (up to 140 characters) via the Twitter website, compatible external applications such as smart phones, or the Short Message Service (SMS). While Twitter use is free, accessing it through SMS may incur phone-service provider fees. Tweets communicate up-to-the-moment updates of any person or organization you’re following. ANA and STTI are a few of the nursing organizations that can tell you "what’s happening" on Twitter.

Some organizations are trying out their own social networking sites, such as STTI’s The Circle ( These sites require you to be a member of the organization.

Social media and nursing education

Social media can enhance nursing education. Some nursing schools have started to use social media to enhance their classrooms. For instance, Mesa Community College in Arizona has a manikin named Stella Bellman who has her own Facebook page. Stella provides welcome messages and notices about exams; more importantly, she provides simulation scenarios for students. Harriet L. Schwartz, PhD, assistant professor of professional leadership at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, calls Facebook her "cyber hallway" where she provides relational mentoring to her students.

Hospital networking sites

Many hospitals and other healthcare organizations are creating their own social networking sites and blogs as a marketing and outreach tool. As of May 2011, 965 U.S. hospitals were using social networking. One example is the Mayo Clinic (, which has blogs where patients and others can share their stories of strength and hope.

Make sure to find out your employer’s policies on using social media. Many healthcare organizations prohibit employees from using social media at work or using an organizational handle on a social networking site (such as

Privacy concerns

Sharing information on social networking sites is easy—too easy, some might say. Health care is one of the most regulated professions in the United States, and nurses are held to the highest standard of confidentiality. When using social media, always adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations and maintain professional boundaries of the nurse-patient relationship.

Revealing private patient information is a leading type of social-networking misuse. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has published “Professional boundaries: A nurse’s guide to the importance of appropriate professional boundaries,” which addresses some of the issues involved. Currently, the ANA is revising its Code of Ethics for Nurses to include principles of social networking.

The distinction between the privacy of one’s personal life versus one’s work life is a gray area poorly defined by current laws. Consider this: Should your patient be your Facebook friend? Patricia Sullivan, APN, FNP-BC, states, "accepting a patient’s ‘friend’ request can damage the nurse-patient therapeutic relationship." When a patient becomes privy to a nurse’s personal information, erosion of trust may occur.

Control how much you share

Social networking sites offer tools that let you control how you share your information and communications; options include sharing with everyone and sharing with friends only. Sharing with friends only is recommended as the default—yet making it your default doesn’t guarantee your posts will stay between friends. For example, suppose you post something witty about a challenging patient, while withholding names and identifying remarks. Your friends find your comments amusing and repost it on their Facebook “walls,” where friends of their friends see it and repost it on their own sites. Now your friends-only message has gone viral and is circulating around the social-media universe—and potentially can get back to the patient or your supervisor.

Nurses have been terminated for posting even seemingly harmless statements, such as "My job is boring." Five California nurses lost their jobs and are facing disciplinary action for discussing a patient on Facebook even though their posts included no names, photos, or identifying information.

Tom Breslin, Associate Director of Labor Education for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, suggests following these rules when using social networking sites:

  • Assume anything you post will be read by everyone, especially those you don’t want reading it.
  • If there’s something you don’t want your employer to read or to know about you, don’t post it.
  • Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your spouse, child, parent, or employer to read. (See Social networking: Some do’s and don’ts by clicking the PDF icon above.)

Realize the risks

Most employers can terminate employees for making disparaging comments about their employer, coworkers, or patients. Posting defamatory remarks on the Internet can lead to civil lawsuits alleging defamation or slander. What’s more, postings to social media sites generally are considered permanent, even if you delete them. Electronic information is easily distributed, archived, and downloaded, and copies of your deleted posts may still exist on search engines or in friends’ electronic files.

You might ask, "What about my freedom of speech?" Privacy in the United States is a given natural right guaranteed by several constitutional amendments. But U.S. laws regarding digital rights vary by jurisdiction. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been working actively with employees who believe they’ve been terminated unjustly for social networking activity. A Connecticut ambulance driver was fired for posting negative comments about her supervisor on Facebook; the case was settled by the NLRB more than 6 months later, but the employee’s reputation has been damaged.

Is your boss watching?

Nursing recruiters pore over social networking sites for new nursing hires. Many nursing employers use these sites to do background and character checks, scanning them for questionable posts or photographs of employees or applicants. In multiple cases, nurses have been terminated for violating employers’ Internet communication policies, and some employers have rejected applicants based on Facebook or other postings that cast the applicants in a bad light.

Social networking is a great tool you can use to expand your professional network, connect with colleagues, and increase your nursing knowledge. But using it carelessly can imperil your job and livelihood. Let common sense and discretion guide you online. Maintain appropriate boundaries and privacy and adhere to your employer’s code of professional conduct and social networking policies. Remember—you’re a professional nurse 24/7.

Note: This article is not meant to constitute legal advice.

Topics: social networking, control, risks, privacy, social media

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