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How Can Nurses Use Social Media to Help?


How many times a day do people say they read something on Facebook, saw an article on LinkedIn, or learned about something on another social media site? For many people, social media is part of everyday life, and most people think nothing of posting about the odds and ends of life or commenting on other people’s posts.

However, it’s always important to be careful about posting information, especially if it’s about someone else. This is especially true for people in certain professions, including nursing. On the other hand when it’s done correctly, nurses can use social media to help others.

Benefits of Social Media

People use social media in a lot of ways. They share information about life, work, kids and adventures. They connect with friends near and far. In some cases, they ask friends for input or advice; they may turn to friends who work in healthcare if they have medical concerns. Since nurses and other healthcare workers are often among those who are most able to give accurate and helpful information, employers and nursing organizations are developing specific guidelines on the use of social media in healthcare in order to avoid any potential damaging issues.

Nurses can use social media in other ways, too. Just as other social media users keep up with friends, family members, alumni groups and neighborhood groups, nurses can keep up with current and former colleagues, as well as professional organizations. Social networking helps nurses think more globally and understand nursing perspectives in other parts of the country and world. Online nursing groups [offer] unlimited opportunities to network with like-minded in nurses in [a] profession or specialty.

Following the guidelines

What if Uncle Joe asks a question on Facebook about an injury? He wants to know if his niece, who’s a nurse, has ever seen anything like it. His niece can answer, but she can’t give information about a patient’s medical condition and treatment or aspects of their nursing care. All information posted to social media sites should be general and not include details that can identify a patient.

Common misconceptions

As anyone who uses social media is aware, even posts that seem private may not be so private, after all. When someone posts content online, it can be shared on someone else’s page or printed. Sometimes people assume that deleting a post takes care of the problem. Unfortunately, the moment something is posted, it exists on a server that can always be discoverable in a court of law.

Another common misconception is that referring to a patient in a roundabout way makes it acceptable. However, it is unacceptable for nurses to discuss or refer to patients even if they are not identified by their actual name, but referred to by a nickname, room number, diagnosis or condition. This, too, is a breach of confidentiality and demonstrates disrespect for patient privacy.

Let’s talk

At 365 Healthcare Staffing Services, we specialize in the recruitment and placement of healthcare professionals in per diem, travel, and permanent assignments in healthcare facilities across the country. If you are seeking a new opportunity, we’d love to talk with you. Give us a call at 310.436.3650 today!