Most posts about social media for nurses focus on don’ts and the fear factor…
Instead of telling you all of the scary you’ll-get-fired-scenarios, I want to chat about ways to use social media to enhance your professional experience.
Tips to Maximize Social Media for Nurses
But first, like everything in nursing… we’ve gotta look at the policy FIRST!
Look at your facility’s social media policy
Would you ever administer intrathecal vancomycin, administer tPA in a central venous catheter, or insert an internal urinary drainage device without looking at a policy? I hope not! Using social media is the same, especially if you’re using it while at work.
Social media is a POWERFUL tool. It can help bring new research to light faster, disseminate information, inspire, encourage, educate… but, like most things, there is the potential for harm as well. HIPAA violations is a major potential for harm, as well as lateral violence.
Hopefully your facility has a social media policy. If they don’t, propose one!
If they do, make sure you look at it closely. You don’t want to do anything that may violate this. All social media policies are not created equal. I’ve seen various policies with big differences and it’s important to be aware of these things. For example, some may say you can’t post while at work while others don’t outline that. Some may say you cannot post on social where you are employed. Many say you cannot take and post photographs, violate HIPAA, or communicate with patients/loved ones via social media.
Basically, if you have concerns about getting fired, it is essential that you are well aware of the specifics of this policy.
Also, check out:
- The National Council of State Boards of Nursing – White Paper on Social Media
- Press Release from the ANA and NCSBN uniting on social media (lots of great links!)
- 6 Tips for Nurses Using Social Media from the American Nurses Association
Essentially, the message from the professional nursing organizations isn’t don’t use social media. Their message is use social media responsibly.
Follow interesting medical and nursing accounts
I believe a lot of people think social media is just for entertainment, but there is a ton of professional value that can be extracted. Have you ever checked out Figure 1 on Instagram?
It’s incredible. They upload various medical conditions and cases. You can download their free app and discuss it with other healthcare professionals all around the world within the app, and follow them on social media as well. I love that when I’m scrolling through my IG feed that some cool and interesting medical case comes up. I’ve actually learned a few things that I’ve used in practice when discussing the clinical picture with the physician.
There’s no need to wait until the next major nursing conference to see what major medical facilities are up to. Go follow Cleveland Clinic, Mayo, John Hopkins, or whomever you think is awesome. It’s great when Cleveland Clinic tweets out some nursing research they just published, or a news article from John Hopkins about a new procedure… but what’s even better is when this is weaved into your existing social media that you’re already looking at.
I’m also really interested in neurosciences, so I follow various neuroscience accounts on Instagram and Twitter. I love seeing a random head CT in my Twitter feed! I also follow quite a few emergency department/critical care physicians and EMT’s who regularly post really short videos of ultrasounds with interesting findings, ECG’s, telemetry monitors, CT’s, MRI’s, and more. Seriously. Amazing.
These are the specific ones I’m thinking of on Twitter: Sam Ghali (@EM_RESUS), Mark Reid, MD (@medicalaxioms), Seth Trueger (@MDaware), Minh Le Cong (@ketaminh), Aiden Baron (@aLittleMedic), Ben C. Smith, MD (@UltrasoundJelly).
Go check them out! I promise you will learn something new!
Pro-tip! if I’m not sure who to follow, I go to someone who I like and enjoy and see who they are following. Unless they’re following over 2K people, I tend to go look closely at who they’ve chosen to get updates from because clearly I trust their judgement.
At the end of this blog post, I have a long list of people I recommend following! Or you can just check me out on social and see who I’m following. That’s basically how I came up with that list. Follow me on:
Check out hashtags
One of the best ways to find interesting things that are specific to you is by checking out a hashtag on that particular social media channel. For example, if I wanted to see some examples of ECG’s with ST elevation, I could hop on Twitter and search #STelevation. Go and do it right now. Seriously.
HOW COOL IS THAT!?
You can do that on Instagram as well. Facebook isn’t so awesome for hashtags, but you get the picture. Hashtags are essentially a way to group things. So, think about something you’d like to see and search the hashtag (nurses, nursing, nursing school, nurse authors, neuro ICU, neurocritical care, etc.)
Share with colleagues
When you find something cool, share it! You can share things privately or publicly. Some of my neuro buds will find a great neuro article and tag me when they tweet it out. Or, you can share it on your Facebook timeline and tag people, or directly on another’s timeline, both ensure they see it. It’s a great way to quickly share information where people are already looking.
Some of you may even have a unit Facebook Page to share it to – bonus points! If it’s not a policy violation, I recommend creating one. On Facebook, you have the option of creating secret groups. You can create a secret group and invite the employees one by one. You can post education updates, when you are in need of staff, when a due date is coming up, cool events in town, interesting articles related to your patient population, staff life updates (having a baby, birthday, moving, promotions). It’s just important that someone is monitoring the page diligently. You don’t want people posting anything inappropriate, a HIPAA violation (“Is Mr. Jenkins in bed 4 still there!? UGH!”) or anything that may be lateral violence. You also want someone in charge of revoking access if someone leaves the unit and adding newbies.
Everyone is watching
And make sure to keep in mind, everyone is watching. How many of you seen someone post something reckless on social, but didn’t say anything?
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Most of the time, people don’t say “Heyyyy Kati… that wasn’t cool” – their opinion of you just changes. Your credibility just changes. You reputation just changes. You don’t feel it, but it happens.
And even if you have great privacy settings, someone could screenshot and share what you’ve said (seriously… seen this happen). Even if you don’t mention someone’s name specifically, but describe a scenario in a detailed manner, you may be engaging in lateral violence or a HIPAA violation.
Pro-tip: have the mentality that anyone could see what you’re posting… from your nurse colleague, to your manager, to your chief nursing officer, to the physicians, to your patient, to your patient’s mother, to the CEO of your hospital… literally everyone… and consider if you would be okay with them seeing that, and using that as a filter, then you should be safe (provided you’re not violating policy.)
Yes, it’s your social media outlet and you technically can do what you want from it. What you choose to post however, impacts your reputation and what people think about you. And if you publicly identify as a nurse, what you say reflects on our profession… and what the public thinks about our profession.
Have no shame in your unfollow game
One of the great things about social media is that it is customized to you and what you want to see. You follow who you want to follow. It is your timeline, no one else’s. Therefore, I am very unapologetic about unfollowing. If someone posts something really mean, inappropriate, gross, or whatever… CLICK unfollow. I don’t need to see that on my precious timeline.
Facebook tip: for those of you tired of seeing the very polarizing or rude posts of various friends, but don’t want to unfriend them and deal with that… simply “unfollow” them. They will not get a notification, you just won’t see their posts in your timeline anymore. Winner winner, man now I want chicken for dinner…
Personal story: a friend would post really polarizing biased political posts multiple times a day. I was considering unfriending because it was just too much. It was pretty disrespectful and clear this person wasn’t taking time to chat with people of the opposing viewpoint, trying to look at unbiased sources as best they could, or just have a consideration for those that didn’t agree. Once, this person posted a picture that said something along the lines of, “If you don’t like what I post, then don’t read it.” I thought to myself… “Alright, I won’t.”
I’m not trying to consume negativity, even if it’s just through scrolling down my Facebook timeline. Continually seeing and consuming negativity, even if it’s somewhat passive, does take a toll.
An easy way to decrease negativity or bad influences is to unfollow them on social media. Remove it from your space. It does not get to be there. It’s like when you’re trying to eat healthy and removing the junk food from the house. Out of sight, out of mind.
I decided to remove bad influences, people that made me cringe, people who were frequently complaining/venting from my timelines. I started to be very intentional with who I follow on Twitter, FB, IG, Pinterest, and Tumblr. It’s been wonderful. I want people who will challenge me, enlighten me, encourage me, educated me, humble me. This is my social media, my timeline. I’m not going to keep negativity on there because I am worried about what someone would think if I were no longer following them.
More social media tips and blogging advice
Over the past few months, Brittney Wilson BSN RN (The Nerdy Nurse) and I have been writing a blogging and social media guide book for nurses. At over 200 pages, it’s full of practical help, our experiences, recommendations, and major mistakes to avoid.
The Nurse’s Guide to Blogging: Building a Brand and a Profitable Business as a Nurse Influencer
We truly want nurse bloggers to have a successful experience and also empower them to know their worth. In addition to the book we’ve written, we are also developing an in person 5-hour seminar during the 2017 NNBA Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida.
We’re elated to work with the NNBA (National Nurses in Business Association) because they offer a huge network of support… support I could have used when I was going through this whole mess. It would have been helpful to already be in a network of people to bounce ideas or situations off of that just didn’t seem right, but I couldn’t really specify why.
The NNBA consists of over several thousand nurses, leaders, and mentors. Growing a successful business, balancing life, and making sure to consider our profession as a whole can be challenging. If you’re a nurse business owner, or considering starting a membership, an NNBA membership is truly an investment in your success.
In addition to being a member of the American Nurses Association and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, I’m also a member of the National Nurses in Business Association, and I highly recommend becoming a member. Join me.
Registration for our 5-hour seminar is officially open. Take this opportunity in professional development, earn some continuing ed, and come hang out with us!
Pro-tip: use the trip as a tax write off!
What: Nurse Blogging 101: Growing a Profitable Business and Community at the 2017 NNBA Conference
Where: Sirata Beach Resort in St. Petersburg, Florida
When: September 8-10, 2017 (our seminar is on the 8th!)
Why: Grow your brand, positively impact the nursing profession, and make money doing what you love
How: Register Now!
Pre-conference seats are limited and filling up fast!
Register now by clicking here.
Shameless plug. Yes, I definitely listed myself first for all of these. Don’t hate…
The Nerdy Nurse
Do Not Resuscitate. D. More-Black,RN
Show Me Your Stethoscope
Diane Lansing says
I’m a recent newcomer to the world of blogging as a nurse. Each month I’m trying out a new social media avenue, and last month it was Twitter. So I very much appreciate your post, and especially your recommendations for people to follow on Twitter. I’m eager to check them out!