Nurses on social media can be a wonderful thing. It can help build your brand, connect you with others, and even further your career. But depending on how you use social media, it could harm you.
I was working in critical care. It was the day shift and I had just finished my morning med pass and assessments. The CNA and I headed into my patient’s room to give him a bed bath. The patient was severely neurologically compromised, so he did not interact with us. His son was at the bedside.
I and the CNA began a bed bath and were just having a casual chat. She asked me if I was the nurse who wrote the book. I said I was, and she asked me a few more questions.
“You wrote a book?” asked the patient’s son. “How cool!” he exclaimed.
He was excited to learn this. He Googled me on his phone and pulled up my book. He then proceeded to see what else Google had to say about me. Naturally, my Instagram feed came up.
He walked over to the bed while we were changing the patient and asked, “Is this you?” while showing me his phone with my Instagram pulled up while I was giving the bed bath.
“Yup! That’s me!” I said nervously.
I was about to freak out. I started frantically thinking about everything I’d posted recently.
But then I stopped my thoughts in their tracks.
I took a moment to remind myself that I don’t put anything on my Instagram (or other social media sites) that I wouldn’t be comfortable with just anyone viewing. I accept that everyone can and to be safe, I just assume they all will.
I assume patients, loved ones, family members, CEO’s, hiring managers, potential clients, friends, etc. will all see whatever I say and the photos I’ve chosen to post.
I don’t view social media as a private and personal experience. It’s not. It may have started that way, but there’s no use in denying that it is a public representation of ourselves that speaks for us when we’re not there to explain. Even with great privacy settings, people can still screenshot things and send them around.
I now look at it as a way for me to connect with the various communities I’m a part of online. Those communities include people who are very close to me as well as people I’ve never met in person who live halfway around the world.
Sometimes I think back to that moment and wonder…
- What if I wasn’t okay with him seeing my Instagram?
- What if I had photos or comments on there that would damage the professional trust and rapport I had built between myself and his family?
- What if he didn’t want me to take care of his dad anymore because of my Instagram feed?
Honestly, I’d be pretty ashamed of myself if I let that happen. The moment I allow my desire for likes and connection online to outweigh my profession and livelihood is the moment I need to reevaluate my priorities.
Thankfully, my diligence in screening my online content paid off. I was thankful for the other nurse examples online that I had shown me both how to do it and how not to do it.
My encouragement to you is this: Use this experience as a guide. When you’re posting something online, ask yourself if you’d be okay with your critically ill patient’s son looking at your feed at the bedside while you are providing care.
If you’re not sure – hold off for a day. If a day later you still feel an internal hesitancy, simply don’t post.