For nurses, social media can be a great place to build relationships, gather resources, and exchange ideas. But they also need to be mindful in order to maintain their professionalism and privacy. Here are a few recommended guidelines to help nurses navigate the digital world:
- Talk about you. There is no better authority on your life than you, so you get to decide what populates your pages. Post pictures of your vacation, your kids, write about your delicious smoothie or share a video from that trip to the beach. You can even share what you love about nursing. As long as it’s all about you (and you only), you’re in safe territory.
- Never, ever, ever talk about your patients. Mentioning anything about a patient, be it their name, condition, treatment, etc., is a serious violation of HIPAA laws that could cost you your job. Even mentioning certain details that could be used to identify a patient are questionable. When it comes to social media, consider your patients off limits.
- Go on social media when you’re not at work. Seasoned nurses will tell you that it’s unprofessional to be on your phone at all during a shift, let alone posting on social media. Save it for your free time, when your attention isn’t needed anywhere else.
- Coworkers or employers should not be discussed. While it may not be a HIPAA violation, talking about your coworkers or employers on social media is a serious no-no. In a public forum, anything you say will almost certainly get back to them, and even if it doesn’t risk your job, it can definitely add tension to the work environment. Find a safe, confidential, and appropriate venue to discuss any issues that need addressing.
- Assume that everyone is reading what you write. Privacy filters may offer some protection, but they’re not foolproof. The bottom line: if you wouldn’t want the public to see it, don’t post it.