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Is Your Social Media Activity Hurting Your Nursing Career Path?

Inappropriate use of social media can seriously derail your nursing career path or even destroy your career altogether. Responsible participation in social networking has become an essential part of the nursing profession, especially as a means of self-promotion. However, nursing boards are increasingly taking disciplinary action against nurses for improper use of electronic media, warns American Nurse Today. Posting anything that makes you, the medical facility you work at or the nursing industry look bad could lead to reprimands, job loss or nursing license suspension.

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Ethics and social media

Social media is a great way to network with colleagues, further your career or promote public education, but when used incorrectly, it could reflect badly on both you and the nursing profession. Professional standards are the same online as they are offline, which includes the nursing code of ethics.

According to the American Nursing Association’s Principles for Social Networking and the Nurse, sharing patient information online, even with their name removed, could trigger a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violation and its associated penalties. You have a legal and ethical responsibility to protect your patients’ privacy and confidentiality, including never posting any individually identifiable patient information.

Unprofessional social media behavior

Any type of unprofessional behavior or behavior that reflects unethical or immoral conduct could have serious repercussions. Around 59 percent of employers in the healthcare industry utilize social media to screen prospective employees, and your current employer could also stumble across unfavorable posts.“

Posting pictures that depict you in an unprofessional or even irresponsible light, such as ones with alcohol or doing crazy things your friends find cool and funny, will make you look immature at best, incompetent at worst, to superiors at work and may hinder your promotions,” warns Stacy Caprio, founder of Growth Marketing.

“If your social media or digital imprint is not portraying you personally or professionally in a positive light, then you need to make changes,” advises Shantay Carter, RN, and founder of Women Of Integrity Inc. “Separate the personal from the business and be mindful of what you say when representing the profession or your employers.”

Protect your nursing career path

Don’t put your nursing license at risk advises American Nurse Today. Your online posts and blogs aren’t private communications and can be used against you. Protect yourself by:

  • Always maintaining patient privacy and confidentiality
  • Never posting photos or videos of patients or referring to them by name
  • Never posting disparaging comments about patients, colleagues, employers or workplaces
  • Reviewing your employer’s social media policy to ensure you’re not inadvertently violating it
  • Removing inappropriate photos, including those depicting alcohol or drug use
  • Deliberating before posting something that could be deemed offensive
  • Waiting 24 hours before posting if you’re angry, impaired or feeling negative

Your behavior online has the potential to enhance or harm your nursing career path. Always evaluate your postings knowing patients, colleagues or employers could potentially view your posts, no matter your privacy settings. And remember, deleting something doesn’t mean it’s truly gone from cyberspace.

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